I wanted to write a claming piece about the Dodgers today. About how two games back of the wild card with seven weeks left in the season wasn't anything resembling a deficit, and we had plenty of time to come back. I was going to write about how bad things were for the Dodgers at this point last year, and they still prevailed. Sadly, after doing the research, neither of these things are true. While they did have a worse record at this time last year (59-56 versus 59-55), the Dodgers were in first place, not five games out.
In fact, even if you sets your sights on the wild card and consider the Dodgers only two games out at this point, a fairly scary statistic sticks out. Only three times have the Dodgers sat two or more games out of a playoff spot on August 10th, then still made the playoffs. Plus in the years that they did close that gap, they only had to hurdle one or two teams, not the five that they have to this year. If the Dodgers are buried in the standings in early August, the season is almost always over. In fact, here's every comeback the L.A. Dodgers have made after this date in their relatively long history.
1996 1.5 games back of wild card 2.5 back of division
- 1.0 GB
- 6.5 GB
- 2.5 GB
- 2.0 GB
On the bright side, I don't think the Dodgers have ever been trying to catch a team that is almost 11 games over their third order winning percentage. The Diamondbacks have to start losing soon. They get blown out, then barely squeak out wins. Eventually, they have to start losing the close ones, and when they do, they'll tumble.
Also encouraging is the reinforcements the Dodgers can bring up over the next few weeks. While our principle rivals are mainly limited to waiver wire pickups at this point in the season, we can still call up guys like Jonathan Meloan, Andy LaRoche, and Chin-Lung Hu to bolster the starting lineup, guys that will do far more than whatever journeyman reliever gets thrown on to waivers.
The Dodgers are in a stretch right now where they face the Reds, the Cardinals and the Astros. They need to make up some ground by beating up on three bad teams before they start heading back to places like New York and San Diego. Two or five games out with seven weeks to play doesn't seem like an insurmountable deficit, but it's amazing how hard it can be to fight your way out of even the smallest hole at this point in the season. If the Dodgers are going to make the post season, the comeback has to start now.