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Popular. Culture. No Longer. Applies To Me

That didn't go so well. Aside from the win on Friday, everything that could have possibly gone wrong did. The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Padres, and the Phillies swept the Astros, leaving them just one game back of the Dodgers. On September 1st, the Phillies were 4.5 games behind the Dodgers and were simply the team that the Dodgers would eventually beat to clinch a playoff spot. Two and a half weeks later, the Phillies can be tied with the Dodgers if they beat the Cubs minus Derrek Lee and the Dodgers lose to the Padres.

Right now things seem bad all around. The offense outside of Rafael Furcal and J.D. Drew has abandoned us. The only starting pitcher I have any faith in is Derek Lowe, and after a season of good work, Grady appears to be going insane. He seems to have lost all faith in the young players that got us where we are today. Andre Ethier went into the first slump of his career and lost his job to Marlon Anderson, of all people. Chad Billingsley, the pitcher with the best ERA since the All Star Break prior to Saturday, was allowed to throw one bad inning in his return, and was immediately replaced by Eric Stults. Not to mention Grady's bullpen usage this month, which has been terrible. Takashi Saito has only pitched five innings, two of those in games where the Dodgers were up by at least five, so our closer who is one of the best relievers in baseball has pitched two innings in September where the Dodgers had less than a three run lead. Meanwhile, guys like Tomko, Broxton, and Sele are pitching the high leverage situations. I know Grady wants to keep Saito from burning out, but if he doesn't start using him correctly soon, there's only going to be two more weeks where he can pitch. On top of these grievous errors are other more forgivable sins such as hitting Julio Lugo third and dropping J.D. Drew in the lineup when he's hitting better than he has all year. Prior to September I had faith that Grady wouldn't do the worst thing possible, making him an easy candidate for best manager in baseball. That faith is starting to get shaken.

After the lousy weekends by the Marlins and Giants (1-2 and 0-2 respectively), only three teams have a realistic shot at the playoffs: the Dodgers, Padres, and Phillies. Right now, the Padres lead the Dodgers by half a game, and the Phillies trail the Dodgers by a full game.  Here's how the team's schedules look for the remainder of the season.

1 vs. San Diego
3 vs. Pittsburgh
3 vs. Arizona
3 at Colorado
3 at San Francisco

1 at Los Angeles
3 vs. Arizona
3 vs. Pittsburgh
3 at St. Louis
4 at Arizona

3 vs. Chicago
3 vs. Florida
1 vs. Houston
3 at Washington
3 at Florida.

If I had to choose, I'd give a very slight edge in the schedule to the Padres. While they do have to play St. Louis, the Cardinals should have clinched their playoff spot by then, so they probably will sit some of their starters. Since the Cardinals are very reliant on the bats of their key players, they should be a much weaker team. Still, none of the teams remaining on these schedules other than the Cardinals have a winning record, so it should be a slugfest to the end.

Despite the pain of this weekend, it certainly isn't time to throw in the towel. The Dodgers still lead the wild card, they have a 72% chance of making the playoffs and they can be right back where they started with a win tonight. Things look bad now, but the Dodgers time and time again have shown how quickly they can go from the worst team in baseball to the best.