Was it really only last year that we stressed through a high-stakes playoff race between the Giants and the Dodgers?
This season’s end feels far more relaxed, at least for Los Angeles. The Dodgers have comfortably clinched the division title and are giving some of their stars much-deserved days off until October. The Giants, meanwhile, are struggling to make their way up through the wild card rankings.
San Francisco hosts the Dodgers for a three-game series this weekend that means far more to the home crowd than it does to L.A. The Giants have won four of their last 10 games and sit 8.5 games back from a wild card spot, with an overall record of just under .500.
What gives? According to Bradford Doolittle at ESPN, maybe we should have seen this coming. The Giants surprised us all with last season’s hot streak, and now, players that were performing better than expected have fallen back into their more typical routines.
Doolittle’s colleague Alden Gonzalez adds that the bullpen may be partially to blame. “The Giants’ relief corps went from either first or second in the majors in ERA, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio last year to the bottom third in all three of those categories this year,” he notes.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are cruising. Though Craig Kimbrel’s fifth blown save of the season put a slight damper on the team’s celebrations, manager Dave Roberts is characteristically unconcerned.
“I thought the stuff was good,” Roberts said to Bill Plunkett at the OC Register of Kimbrel’s performance. “I think it just comes down to that last hitter...Right now in the regular season, there’s that runner on second base to start an inning. It changes the dynamic. It adds stress. You have no margin to give up a hit or put the ball in play.”
Beyond Kimbrel and the rest of the Dodgers’ pitching staff, it seems that the Dodgers are ready for the post season — we just need to wait for it.
Dodgers-Giants pitching matchups
Friday: Dustin May vs. Logan Webb
7:15 p.m., Apple TV+
Saturday: Julio Urías vs. TBD; likely a bullpen game with Sean Hjelle taking over for an opener (per Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle)
6:05 p.m., SportsNet LA
Sunday: Andrew Heaney vs. Alex Cobb
4:08 p.m., ESPN