UPDATE: I hadn't noticed this before, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has a similiar article up entitled "The NL West Race is Over". Dave points out what kind of record we would need to win the division. "At 20-8, they could play .500 ball the rest of the year and finish with 87 wins. The Giants would have to play .548 baseball (75-62) to finish with 88 wins and nip LA by a game. The Diamondbacks would have to play .570 baseball (77-58) to finish with 88 wins and squeak past the Dodgers. And that’s assuming that the LA falls apart and plays .500 baseball the rest of the year. In reality, we should probably expect the Dodgers to play something like .550 baseball for the remainder of the season. They aren’t 20-8 good, but they’re an above average baseball team, and their +48 run differential is easily the best in baseball. If the Dodgers play .550 ball the rest of the way, they’ll win 94 games. I’m not sure anyone else in the rest of the division will win 84 games, much less 94". Its good to hear that an outsider feels so confident in our chances. Hopefully Dave and I haven't jinxed them.
After the two game sweep of the DIamondbacks, the Dodgers sit at 20-8, 5.5 games ahead of the second place Giants. The sweep was more important than it may seem, with the difference between the Diamondbacks winning both games and the actual outcome being 4 games, because had we lost both our lead over the D-Backs would be only 4.5 games instead of 8.5. The sweep leaves the Diamonndbacks in a huge hole to dig themselves out of, and with Brandon Webb not back until at least June, they could start thinking about trading away some of their older players if they can't close the gap. This would all but eliminate our biggest threat for the division crown, as Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA-Adjusted Playoff Odds show:
Dodgers Giants Padres DIamondbacks Rockies
(The simulations were run 1,000,000 times to determine playoff odds for each team. The last three columns show the odds that each team wins the division, wildcard, and makes the playoffs. The AvgW and AvgL columns represent the average amount of wins and losses teams finished with that season. The Pct3 is the expected winning percentage for remaining games applied to each team for the simulations.)
Our odds of making the playoffs today are about 88%, and we have an 83% chance of winning the division. You can see that our biggest threats are still the DIamondbacks, who have a 10.4% chance of taking the division. At the beginning of our two game series with them, we had about an 81% chance of making the playoffs, so there was a 12% differential in sweeping the D-Backs and being swept by them. Now we've drastically reduced the D-Backs' chances of being contenders, and maybe forced them to be sellers down the road.
We've also got the best odds of making the playoffs of any team in baseball at this point in the season. The Red Sox currently have the second best odds, 74.6%. In the NL, the leading playoff contenders are the Cubs, Phillies, and Mets, with 63.6%, 49.7%, and 44.8% chances of making the playoffs respectively.
We've still got five winnable home games for the rest of this week. If we sweep the Nats, our playoff odds will probably edge above 90% for the first time this season. Here's the matchups for the rest of the week.
Daniel Cabrera vs. Clayton Kershaw
Jordan Zimmerman vs. Randy Wolf
Barry Zito vs. Chad BIllingsley
Jonathan Sanchez vs. Eric Stults
Tim Lincecum vs. Jeff Weaver
Obviously, the last game will be tough, but we still have a big advantage in 4 of our next 5 games. It's possible that we could be going for our fourth straight sweep and 11th win in a row this Sunday against Tim Lincecum.