The Dodgers set out today on a seven-game Eastern Division road trip that takes them to Philadelphia for three games and Atlanta for four. Extended travel accompanied with a three-hour time change makes for additional challenges, so one might expect it to be a little more difficult to win games in such situations. So how have the Dodgers fared in recent years when spending six or more consecutive games in the eastern time zone?
|2010||June 15-20||Cincinnati, Boston||2-4|
|2010||April 20-28||Cincinnati, Washington, New York||2-7|
|2010||April 5-11||Pittsburgh, Florida||2-4|
|2009||Sept 22-28||Washington, Pittsburgh||3-4|
|2009||May 12-17||Philadelphia, Florida||4-2|
|2008||Aug 22-28||Philadelphia, Washington||0-7|
|2008||Jun 13-19||Detroit, Cincinnati||3-3|
|2007||Aug 21-26||Philadelphia, New York||3-3|
|2007||June 19-24||Toronto, Tampa Bay||3-3|
|2007||May 29 - June 4||Washington, Pittsburgh||5-2|
|2007||May 4-10||Atlanta, Florida||3-4|
The answer is: not so well. In the last eleven such stretches spanning the last four seasons, the Dodgers have emerged with a winning record exactly twice, and one of those winning trips featured two of the worst teams in the National League that year, the Nationals and the Pirates.
That is not a heartwarming notion for a team that needs to win games at a high rate in order to have a shot at being in any playoff race this season, a team that cannot accept a losing road trip right now.
The Dodgers do catch Philadelphia in a fortunate spot in the rotation, facing only Roy Oswalt of the big three starters, and the Phillies also have injury issues - something that has dogged them all season as Phil mentioned in his team preview - but somehow that team manages to be only two games behind the Dodgers other foe this trip, the Atlanta Braves, headed into Monday's action. All Atlanta has done is tie for the most wins in the National League this season to date.
Meanwhile the Padres host the Pirates and travel to San Francisco, the Giants have the Cubs at home before San Diego invades the phone booth, and the Rockies are in New York before coming home to face the Brewers.
Does this trip make or break the season for the Dodgers? When the team trails three others in the division, is out of the lead by seven games, is five behind in the wild card and is trailing four other teams in that race, every series is the most important series of the year. A 4-3 trip might be treading water, but five or more wins on this trip might be an extremely tall order.