The Dodgers’ home win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night not only garnered the 102nd win of the season for Los Angeles. It also guaranteed the Dodgers will finish with one of the top two records among division winners in the National League, which earns them a bye past the wild card round.
That means the Dodgers’ first postseason game will be Tuesday, October 11 with the start of the National League Division Series.
Whether the Dodgers are the No. 1 or No. 2 seed remains to be seen, but they are very well in line to claim the top spot. Here are the records for the three division leaders in the NL:
West: Dodgers 102-44 (.699)
East: Braves 93-55 (.631)
Central: Cardinals 87-61 (.588)
If St. Louis wins out, they would finish with 101 wins, and since the Dodgers already have 102 victories under their belt, that’s how they clinched a bye into the NLDS so soon, with 16 games remaining in the season. The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed over the Mets is 6.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement signed in March, the postseason expanded from 10 to 12 teams beginning this year.
The top two division winners get a bye into the NLDS, and the division winner with the worst record is the No. 3 seed. The three wild card teams are seeded 4-6 based on record. The wild card round is a best-of-three series with every game of the series at the home of the higher seed, over three days. This year, both leagues’ wild card series run from October 7-9.
No. 3 plays No. 6 and No. 4 plays No. 5 in the wild card round. Winner of the 3/6 series plays the No. 2 seed, and the 4/5 winner plays the No. 1 seed in the Division Series.
There is no reseeding after the wild card round, which could lead to the No. 2 seed getting a more favorable matchup than the top seed in the Division Series. This year, for instance, the current No. 4-seed Braves have a better record and run differential than the division-leading No. 3-seed Cardinals.
Simply not having to play the opening wild card round is an advantage in itself. Imagine last year’s Dodgers playoff run had they not needed to play the extra wild card game to start things, as an example.
But there’s more to it.
By not having to play until the NLDS, the Dodgers have five days off in between the end of the regular season (Wednesday, October 5) and the start of the NLDS (October 11). That will allow them to set up their pitching rotation exactly how they want, and perhaps more importantly given the current injured list roster, allows for a few more days for pitchers to rehab before the postseason begins.
Another advantage of skipping the wild card round is that playing a team that just had to play at least two, maybe three games just to get to the Division Series. Pitching could be in disarray. A pitcher starting Game 1 of the wild card round on October 7 wouldn’t be available on regular rest until Game 2 of the NLDS (October 12), and the wild card Game 2 starter wouldn’t be available until Game 3 of the NLDS (October 14). Add in that there is no off day for travel between Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS, it’s likely those top two starters who were used in the wild card round would only be able to pitch once during the NLDS.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, would have their already rested NLDS Game 1 starter set to go on regular rest in Game 5.
Given the schedule, pitching depth will be paramount, and the bullpen would be affected as well by having to pitch two, maybe three days in the wild card round.
Dodgers-Padres 2022 NLDS schedule
|1||Tue, Oct 11||Dodger Stadium||6:37 p.m.||FS1|
|2||Wed, Oct 12||Dodger Stadium||5:37 p.m.||FS1|
|3||Fri, Oct 14||Petco Park||5:37 p.m.||FS1|
|4*||Sat, Oct 15||Petco Park||6:37 p.m.||FS1|
|5*||Sun, Oct 16||Dodger Stadium||6:07 p.m.^||FS1|