Dodgers Clinch 2021 MLB Playoff Spot for 9th Straight Year with Win, Padres Loss

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen, right, celebrates with catcher Will Smith after the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 5-2 in a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading into the postseason for the ninth straight season.

With a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday combined with losses by the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers have clinched at least a berth in the 2021 MLB playoffs.

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"We did a little champagne toast, said a few words and acknowledged the fact that it's a big accomplishment," L.A. manager Dave Roberts told reporters. "We got a lot of work to do and this is just the beginning."

The squad now must focus on battling the San Francisco Giants for an NL West title. The Giants hold a 2.5-game lead for first place.

Los Angeles has controlled its division for nearly a decade, finishing in first place in each of the past eight seasons. After years of disappointing playoff finishes, the squad finally came through last year with a World Series title, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games in the Fall Classic.

The Dodgers are now looking to become the first team to go back-to-back since the New York Yankees in 2000.

The talent is there for a deep run if the team can stay healthy.

Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Mookie Betts and Corey Seager lead a deep lineup that ranks first in the National League in runs scored. The offense got even deeper during the season with the additions of Trea Turner and Albert Pujols, giving Roberts an embarrassment of riches when filling out his lineup card.

Even if a few players struggle in the playoffs, there are enough high-quality options to keep the offense producing.

The bullpen, led by Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen and Phil Bickford, is another of the team's strengths.

Adding Max Scherzer at the deadline also gave the Dodgers an ace to a staff that already included Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. If Clayton Kershaw can return to the mound, this team can be even more dangerous.

Regardless of whether Los Angeles wins the division or ends up with a wild-card bid, this is an elite team without many weaknesses. The latest accomplishment could just be one more stepping stone toward another title.