That seemed like a silly take at the time, and it looks even sillier today.
In addition to the fact that baseball never seems to unfold as expected, the Dodgers aren’t even the best team in their own division.
That distinction belongs to the San Francisco Giants.
Many folks expected the Dodgers to close the gap on the Giants after L.A.’s massive deadline haul, but that hasn’t been the case.
And as a result, there is a very real chance that the Dodgers are going to land in the single-elimination Wild Card Game to open the postseason.
Should that be a concern for L.A.?
Even Though The Dodgers Are Loaded, Anything Can Happen In A One-Game Season
Every team wants to avoid the Wild Card Game at all costs, and there’s a reason for that: It’s a nightmare to have a 162-game season come down to one night in October.
Sure, the Dodgers are probably better suited to win a single-elimination game than most other teams are, but at the end of the day, one game is one game.
Anything can happen, especially when you’re getting the other team’s very best shot.
As an exercise, let’s imagine what the Wild Card matchup might look like this year.
If the season were to end today, it would be the Dodgers and San Diego Padres battling it out.
That would presumably mean a pitching matchup of Scherzer (2.67 ERA in 2021) and Joe Musgrove (2.81 ERA in 2021).
Buehler and Kershaw are good, but I think the Dodgers should start Max Scherzer in their winner-take-all wild card game.
— Archbishop Deshaies (@HouCounterplot) August 5, 2021
Pretty solid matchup, right?
Dodgers-Padres will be the best wild card game we will ever see https://t.co/NmZ9QiiRG8
— Thomas Senerchia (@tomsenerch) August 10, 2021
That’s because in a one-game scenario, everything is a tiny slice of the bigger picture.
Los Angeles is undeniably a better all-around team than San Diego, but that might not shine through in a one-game sample size.
The things that make the Dodgers better than the Padres over the course of a 162-game season (i.e. having a deeper rotation) go out the window in the Wild Card Game.
That’s what makes it so dangerous.
How The Dodgers Can Avoid The Wild Card Game
If the Dodgers want to avoid the Wild Card Game, they could start by taking care of business against some of the lowly teams that remain on their schedule.
L.A. has 15 games left against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Those are three of the worst teams in baseball, and if the Dodgers were to go, say, 12-3 or 11-4 in those games, they’d be in business.
It’s going to be important for L.A. to get the job done in those matchups, because the team’s remaining schedule is very tough otherwise.
Also of note: The Dodgers and Giants have a massive series on the schedule for the beginning of September.
It’s a three-game set, and it will be the last time the two clubs meet in the regular season.
Los Angeles would be wise to win that series.
The fact that L.A. is in this situation says more about the Giants than it does about the Dodgers.
San Francisco deserves tons of credit for performing at such a high level this season.
Very few people saw it coming.
But as great of a story as the Giants are, the Dodgers aren’t entertained by it.
It’s time for L.A. to get serious about erasing its division deficit.