If I were forced to bet today, I'd have to say that the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers are unlikely to repeat as Division Champions of the NL West barring a historic collapse or a torrid streak. However, the team is a near lock to make the playoffs where they will host a winner take all game against (likely) the San Diego Padres.
Woah, Eli, you're jumping the gun! You crowned the Giants the Division Champs awfully fast.
I'm not saying it's over, I"m just noticing that the cake is pretty much baked at this point. No one is turning a chocolate cake vanilla at this point...not without buckets of frosting.
This metaphor makes me want cake. #BlameEli.
Anyway, the winner of the Play In game would go on to play the team with the best record in the NL, which would be the likely NL West Champion: the San Francisco Giants.
Note to Self: the Game Threads on a hypothetical Dodgers-Giants playoff series will likely..be...yeah. Note to Self, schedule rewatch of Ken Burns' Civil War...for no particular reason.
Would you go to those games?
In a heartbeat.
The very likely NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers would host either the Atlanta Braves/Philadelphia Phillies/(my pick) New York Mets - seriously though, why does no one want to win the NL East this year. Honestly, you could say any of those three teams would win the division and I'd nod without a hint of surprise. Well, maybe mild surprise for the Braves.
We've now moved into that last 54-game chunk of the season where every miscue and perk is magnified tenfold, which I've never understood because a boneheaded loss in April counts the same as a boneheaded loss in September.
How did the Dodgers get to this point? Well, the Dodgers have no one to blame but---
Woah - timeout. There are about 50 games left. What kind of Dodgers fan are you?!?
Fine, I'll show my work. Plus, I said it is unlikely that the Dodgers will win the NL West at this point. In my day job as a lawyer/solicitor, when I saw something is unlikely, that's a pretty bad sign, but it could be worse: I could have said it was very unlikely or definitely not going to happen, but that would be premature from a statistical standpoint.
As of this essay, the Dodgers are 4.5 games behind the Giants who have yet to play tonight. They will play the Colorado Rockies (oof) in San Francisco (double oof). And on cue, the Giants are winning 7-0. So it's going to be a 5 GB deficit unless something dramatic happens tonight. The Dodgers currently have a 3.5 game lead over San Diego for the right to host the Play In Game. Cincinnati is 4 GB of the Padres, with the Mets 6 GB, the Braves 6.5 GB and the Cardinals 7 GB. No one else is worth mentioning apart from pointing and laughing. Oh, the Athletics are 2 GB up for the right to host the play in game in the AL and are 1.5 GB of Houston in the AL West. That fact is actually relevant going forward when looking at schedules of the Dodgers and Giants for the rest of the year.
- The Matchups of the Dodgers and Giants to Complete the Year
Yeah...I guess. Seems like a copout but whatever.
Atlanta 3 (3 in LA)
St. Louis 4 (4 in STL)
Cincinnati 3 (3 in CIN)
Tier 1 = 20
Oakland 3 (3 in OAK)
Milwaukee 4 (4 in SF)
Dodgers 3 (3 in SF)
San Diego 10 (7 in SF, 3 in SD)
Tier 2 = 12
Atlanta 6 (3 in SF, 3 in ATL)
New York 6 (3 in NY, 3 in SF)
Tier 3 = 15
Colorado 9 (3 in SF, 6 in CO)
Chicago 3 (3 in CHI)
Arizona 3 (3 in SF)
At first glance, the strength of schedule as a whole seems to favor the Dodgers because their difficulty of schedule is a lot less top heavy than the Giants. However, the main issue isn't difficulty per se, the fact that the Dodgers and Giants played each other seven times, with the Giants taking 5, likely put them on the door to icing the division.
Also, the Dodgers have more opponents whose seasons could easily go either way at this point, because as shown, the NL Central is pretty much wrapped up and the remaining NL East and NL Central teams are going to be going to town on each other
Moreover, every loss at this point is magnified due to the rapidly diminishing calendar. This situation is compounded by the fact that the Dodgers and Giants play each other only three more times this season, which is why the 2-5 stretch was so devestating, because now in order to make up ground, the team needs help. And based on the matchups going forward, unless the Dodgers can take advantage and win the matches that they are supposed to, they will likely run out of runway and have to play in the play in game.
So you're saying there's a chance?
Yeah - I never said there wasn't a chance, but the clock is rapidly approaching zero. All those missed opportunities throughout the year are looming large at this point, including the baffling failure to do anything in extra innings besides getting dunked on.
With the current health of the Dodgers roster, 42-8 seems a bit unlikely. So the Dodgers will likely need help, which leads to my next point.
- The San Diego Padres: the Perpetual Little Brother
The Giants and Dodgers will be playing the Padres most often to conclude the season, a team that everyone thought had the best chance to dethrone the Dodgers at the beginning of the year. At some point, someone is going to write down, gee the Padres are going to play kingmaker/spoiler, because they are going to be 8 games out of the division lead. Oh look, I just did. Could the Padres catch fire and overtake both the Dodgers and the Giants? Probably not, but no one will be able to say that they didn't try because they'll have plenty of shots at both of them to conclude the year.
The Dodgers are currently 3-7 against the Padres (worst record by far), so you know, that's a thing. The Giants are currently 5-4 against the Padres. If you're looking for what went wrong this year, I mean apart from signing Trevor Bauer, or all the injuries...the many, many, many injuries, the complete lack of production during extra inning games, the Dodgers playing below their abilities in July, and normal baseball stuff (blown calls, etc.), taking care of business against the Padres is another bullet point as to why the division championship streak is likely over at this point.
It's worth writing down but the Dodgers and Giants are currently tied in the season series: 8-8. These last three will determine who wins the season series and probably could serve to ice the division if you're the Giants. As always, if folks want to go, I can make myself available.
- Why is this a SaveEli post?
Huh? Apart from the title---
Why isn't Eric / Blake / whoever writing this?
Maybe they will. Maybe they'll do a better job than me. That's not really the point. This fandom binds us and I got tired of analyzing records on a case. This essay allowed me to reflect on why I've been so calm about everything when in prior years, I'd be more emotional about it all. But to answer the direct thought, this essay is a SaveEli post because of the games I'll be attending: 3 against STL, 1 against SD in LA, 1 or 2 against ARI in LA (bobbleheads), 2 in CIN. The division could well be decided at this point. I've seen some weird shit this year, and odds are, I'll likely have a front row seat to the regular season fate of the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers.
Plus, it's a nice change of pace from writing travel posts and how to be a Dodger fan on the road guide for each city, although those are strictly for my own use at this point.
Why are you so calm?!?!
I alluded to my change in attitude in the latest SaveEli post. 2020 sucked. I didn't realize how very unhappy I was, because I just plodded through trying to make the best of a terrible situation. The Dodgers won the World Series last year. That was nice. I promised myself immediately after in a long windy post that could be best described as stream of consciousness rant that I would try and be more mellow about stuff. Stop and smell the roses, actually venture out once I got my life back.
It hasn't been perfect, but it's been joyful, even when the baseball hasn't been great.
These thoughts needed to go somewhere, and I didn't feel like writing a long Facebook post tonight. Good thing, I'm part of a community that indulges this sort of thing.
What if you're wrong? Say the Dodgers win the division.
I'll say cool and celebrate. Something that is likely to happen is no guarantee that it will happen unless it actually has happened.
I'm not rooting for failure and even if what is likely to happen plays out, then the Dodgers send out Max Scherzer for the Play In game and line up Buehler / Kershaw / Urias-Gonsolin-Whoever for afterwards. But that's just my view. I'm years removed from my statistics coursework and 538 has the Giants as barely favored over the Dodgers to take the division at this point, so I'd love to know why, but that was too mathy for my back of the envelope / writing up essay during work breaks session today.