LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers’ three straight wins have accelerated their timetable a little bit, and greatly improved their chances of clinching the National League West at home. The party could start as soon as Saturday night if things break their way, but that’s not all in play this weekend.
First thing’s first — the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the division is two, meaning any combination of Dodgers wins and Giants losses clinch LA’s fourth consecutive division title, unprecedented in franchise history.
For that to happen on Saturday, the Dodgers need to beat the Rockies, and will have Clayton Kershaw on the mound. They also need the Giants, with Madison Bumgarner starting, to lose to the Padres. The game in San Diego starts at 5:40 p.m. PT, 30 minutes before the action begins at Dodger Stadium.
Should both things not happen, the Dodgers still have a chance on Sunday to clinch at home, and more importantly with Vin Scully on the call.
The Dodgers on Saturday could also know, officially, who they will play in the National League Division Series.
Spoiler alert: it’s the Nationals.
The Cubs on Friday clinched the top seed in the National League, meaning Chicago will begin their NLDS at home against the winner of the NL Wild Card Game. That leaves the NL West to play the NL East, and out east the Nationals own a 7½-game lead on the Mets with nine (and eight) games left to play.
Washington’s magic number to clinch the NL East is two, so they could clinch their division on Saturday too.
There is the matter of home field advantage in the NLDS which is still up for grabs. The Dodgers (88-66) are now just 1½ games behind the Nationals (89-64). By winning five of six games between the two teams this season, the Dodgers own the tiebreaker.
LA has eight games remaining and the Nationals have nine games left. For the Dodgers to gain home field advantage in the opening round, they need 10 of those 17 outcomes to go their way.
Here is a schedule of the relevant games for Saturday:
4:05 p.m. PT: Washington (Joe Ross) at Pittsburgh (Ivan Nova)
4:10 p.m.: Philadelphia (Alec Asher) at New York (Sean Gilmartin)
5:40 p.m.: San Francisco (Madiison Bumgarner) at San Diego (Jarred Cosart)
6:10 p.m.: Colorado (Chad Bettis) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)