The Dodgers woke up this morning and found themselves in first place with a half game lead over the Rockies. With two weeks left in the season, the Dodgers and Rockies are in the closest National West division race since 2010.
As you compare this year’s race to the prior ten seasons at the same point, you can see how only one year compares to this one.
- 2017 - Dodgers 96-53 - 9½ game lead - Magic Number was 4
- 2016 - Dodgers 84-65 - 5 game lead - Magic Number was 9
- 2015 - Dodgers 85-64 - 7 game lead - Magic Number was 7
- 2014 - Dodgers 85-64 - 3 game lead - Magic Number was 11
- 2013 - Dodgers 86-63 - 10½ game lead - Magic Number was 4
- 2012 - Giants 86-63 - 9 game lead - Magic Number was 5
- 2011 - Diamondbacks 87-62 - 8½ game lead - Magic Number was 6
- 2010 - Giants 84-66 - ½ game lead - Magic Number was 13*
- 2009 - Dodgers 89-60 - 5 game lead - Magic Number was 9
- 2008 - Dodgers 77-72 - 4½ game lead - Magic Number was 10
I used the standings in 2010 at that point because neither the Giants or the Padres led the NL West when they had played 149 games.
In 2010, the Giants and Padres would continue to exchange leads in the final two weeks. Five times they went back and forth until the Giants took a two-game lead with five games to go. The two contenders were scheduled for a three-game series on the last weekend of the season and the Giants did clinch a tie when they took a three-game lead with three games to go.
However on Sunday October 3, 2010, the race had not been clinched because the Padres won the first two games in that series. That set up a potential chaotic situation because the Wild Card team had not clinched yet either. With Game 162 left to be played, the Giants had a 91-70 record with the second place Padres at 90-71. The Braves were leading the Wild Card race at 90-71.
A potential multi-game play-in game scenario was averted when the Giants and Braves both won their final games, thus clinching their postseasons on the last day of the regular season.
So you could ask now, at what game number was the National West race decided on in the last ten years.
- In 2017, Dodgers clinched division on Game 154
- 2016, Dodgers clinched on Game 156
- 2015, Dodgers clinched on Game 157
- 2014, Dodgers clinched on Game 159
- 2013, Dodgers clinched on Game 153
- 2012, Giants clinched on Game 152
- 2011, Diamondbacks clinched on Game 157
- 2010, Giants clinched on Game 162
- 2009, Dodgers clinched on Game 161**
- 2008, Dodgers clinched on Game 158*
Note that in 2008, the Dodgers clinched the NL West prior to playing Game 159 at home due to the Diamondbacks losing earlier in the day. And in 2009, the Dodgers had clinched at least the NL Wild Card on Game 155 but did not clinch the West until the second to last game of the regular season.
A quick glance at the remaining schedules for both the Dodgers and Rockies shows this half game won’t be dealt with until the last week of the regular season.
Including today’s games, the Dodgers have seven games left on the road, one in St. Louis and then three each in Arizona and San Francisco. The Dodgers have six games left at home, three against the Rockies and three versus the Padres next weekend to closeout their regular season at home.
The Rockies are on their final road trip of the season. They have one more in San Francisco. Then they play the Dodgers and Arizona for three games apiece before heading back home.
It should also be pointed out that the Dodgers and Rockies are also in the race for the second NL Wild Card with the Cardinals. The Cardinals face a difficult schedule in their last two weeks. Including their game against the Dodgers tonight, they will play all three current NL division leaders with three games at the Braves and their final three games of the season against their longtime foe, the Cubs.
The Cardinals have six more home games after tonight’s game, three against the Giants and three against the Wild Card leader, the Brewers.
Something else was announced this past week and it got me thinking about the end of the 2018 baseball season.
Longtime LA Clippers play-by-play broadcaster, Ralph Lawler announced this would be his last year behind the mike as he was retiring after the 2019 season. Lawler has many regular sayings and one could be applicable to this season’s National League West finish.
Lawler always said “fasten your seatbelts,” as a close game was coming to the final minutes. I think that is an appropriate message for this year’s race, make sure to buckle up, there could be lots of curves in the next the two weeks.