As the Los Angeles Dodgers near increasingly closer to clinching a postseason berth, we now stack the Blue Crew up against their National League foes for a comparative outlook at October.
With only 18 games left to play in the regular season, the Dodgers’ magic number of sealing the NL West pennant is six, which puts the team in a good position to make its first postseason run since 2009.
In fact, according to CoolStandings.com, the Dodgers have a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, odds that they share with their NL East foe the Atlanta Braves and potential World Series opponent the Boston Red Sox.
As the days until October dwindle like the leaves of fall, let’s take a look at how the Dodgers match up against their potential postseason foes in the NL.
Record Against: 5-1
Run Margin: +10
Top Players: Jayson Werth (RF), Bryce Harper (LF), Ian Desmond (SS), Adam LaRoche (1B), Ryan Zimmerman (3B), Stephen Strasburg (RHP), Gio Gonzalez (LHP), Jordan Zimmerman (RHP), Tyler Clippard (RP)
If the season were to end today (Wednesday), the Washington Nationals (75-69) wouldn’t make the playoffs, as they currently sit six games away from a wild-card spot.
However, with a few weeks to go, the Nats may serve up their best batch of Natitude and surge into the playoffs, proving the folks who have them slotted with a 2.8 percent chance of making the playoffs drastically incorrect.
Still, if the Nationals do make the playoffs, they won’t go very far and certainly won’t be able to beat the Dodgers in a series.
They may be trending upwards as a franchise, but they are still a team comprised of many young players who possess talent but still yearn for more experience in order to do damage in the postseason.
Prediction: If the Nats end up brewing up a postseason run, they wouldn’t stand much of a chance against the Dodgers. They’d be swept in three games. The Dodgers’ hefty offense and stellar pitching staff would prove too much for the inexperienced Nats.
Record Against: 3-4
Run Margin: -1
Top Players: Joey Votto (1B), Shin-Soo Choo (CF), Jay Bruce (RF), Brandon Phillips (2B), Mat Latos (RHP), Homer Bailey (RHP), Mike Leake (RHP), Bronson Arroyo (RHP), Aroldis Chapman (CL), Sam LeCure (RP)
They’re not quite the Big Red Machine of the ‘70s, but the Reds (82-64) have become a well-oiled machine in their own right.
They can do damage with their sticks and dominate with their flame-throwing pitching staff and have the experience of toothpick-chewing manager Dusty Baker on their side.
Above all, the Reds are hungry for postseason success, as they’ve fallen short in the NLDS in consecutive seasons after making the playoffs for the first time in 15 years in 2010.
The Reds are always a dangerous team for the Dodgers to face because of their widespread talent. However, if the Dodgers can get to the Reds early in the game and avoid facing their infamous triple-digit-registering closer Aroldis Chapman, then they’ll give them a run for their money.
Still, the Reds just handed the Dodgers their first series loss by sweep since early May, nabbing three one-run games from the Blue Crew, which is concerning given the typical close-scoring games of October.
Prediction: As the standings are right now, the Reds will finish in the NL’s second wild-card position and will play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one-game playoff. Should the Dodgers face the Reds in the NLCS—or NLDS, if the Dodgers can nab the top spot in the NL—they would win in a hard-fought five or seven games. Although the Reds are a strong team, they lack the continuity that can propel them past the surging Dodgers.
Record Against: 4-2
Run Margin: +4
Top Players: Andrew McCutchen (CF), Starling Marte (LF), Pedro Alvarez (3B), Jeff Locke (LHP), A.J. Burnett (RHP), Gerrit Cole (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP)
The Pirates (83-61) have stunned all of baseball by clinching their first winning season since 1992.
Beyond merely securing a record over the .500 mark, the Pirates have a 99.2 percent chance of making the postseason and currently stand atop the wild-card race with a two-game lead over the Reds.
Although the Dodgers’ positive record against the Pirates seems to reassure the notion that they’d emerge victorious in a postseason battle between the two teams, their performance against their NL Central foe has been a mixed bag.
In a series of close games in the beginning of the season, the Dodgers swept the Pirates at Dodger Stadium; however, more recently in June, the Pirates stifled the Blue Crew with their impressive starting rotation, holding them to a mere six runs in three games.
Prediction: While the Pirates have a solid rotation to fall back on in the postseason, their offensive prowess is far too spread out amongst the lineup to propel them past any opponent in October. Thus, the Dodgers would dominate the Pirates in four or five games.
Record Against: 4-3
Run Margin: +3
Top Players: Yadier Molina (C), Matt Carpenter (IF/OF), Allen Craig (OF, 1B), Carlos Beltran (RF), Matt Holliday (LF), Jon Jay (CF), David Freese (3B), Adam Wainwright (RHP), Shelby Miller (RHP), Trevor Rosenthal (RP), Edward Mujica (CL)
Notice the long list of top players on the St. Louis Cardinals (84-60)?
That’s because they field arguably the best-hitting set of eight position players in MLB. Helmed by veteran leader Yadier Molina, the Cardinals are a deep team with loads of playoff experience not just on an individual level but as a team.
Still, the Dodgers have outdone the Cardinals this season in their head-to-head matchups, resurrecting an early season series loss at Dodger Stadium with a decisive series win at St. Louis in August.
Prediction: At the current rate, the Dodgers will likely face the Cardinals in the NLDS. Although the Cardinals have the postseason experience, they are lacking in their rotation with ace Chris Carpenter out of the picture. The Dodgers have proven they can beat the Cardinals in a series and would take an important series in October in five games against the birds.
Record Against: 2-5
Run Margin: -10
Top Players: Freddie Freeman (1B), Chris Johnson (3B), Justin Upton (LF), Dan Uggla (2B), Julio Teheran (RHP), Mike Minor (LHP), Kris Medlen (RHP), Craig Kimbrel (CL)
The Braves (87-57) are the Dodgers’ biggest threat and a major obstacle to the team journeying to the World Series.
Only games away from clinching the NL East, the Braves have been one of the most consistently dominant teams in MLB this season. They began the season with a 12-1 opening and have been rolling ever since.
The Dodgers didn’t fare well against the Braves in this year’s regular season, and while their early season woes can be dismissed given their current success, that argument is only partially feasible.
The Blue Crew’s first series against the Braves, in which they were swept in Atlanta, can be associated with the Dodgers’ struggles, but the second series, hosted in Chavez Ravine, cannot, as spark plug Yasiel Puig had just re-energized the team before that series.
Prediction: If the Dodgers end up facing the Braves, which would likely be in the NLCS, they will lose in six games. The Braves’ explosive offense and dominant rotation and bullpen would prove too much for the Blue Crew despite their hefty batting order.
***All playoff odds courtesy of CoolStandings.com