For six consecutive years now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have finished the regular season atop the NL West division. Each year has been a little different, but this year was as challenging and strange as any of them. It took them one extra game, the 163rd of the season, to settle the division, and earn a champagne shower celebration after a dominant performance by Walker Buehler. A win over the Colorado Rockies not only cemented home field advantage for the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, but also gave the Dodgers time to rest and align their pitching match ups for the series.
The Dodgers couldn’t have been set up any stronger for the series against the Braves. Atlanta runs out four starting right hand pitchers, which gets the big bats of Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy into the lineup. Yasiel Puig also has reverse splits this year, which means he hits right handers better than lefties. Clayton Kershaw lines up to be Game 1 starter followed by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has been a dominant pitcher since returning to the rotation.
The outlook is quite bright for the Dodgers now that the playoffs are here. Two home games at Chavez Ravine, before heading out to Atlanta. They have the lineup, they have great depth, they are battle tested. I don’t know if they really thought they’d be in such an envious position back in May when they were 10 games under .500 and off to their worst start since coming to L.A.
Even still, Doc Roberts prophesied they would win the division. It took them one extra game to do so, but they delivered. While this path was different, the Dodgers couldn’t have asked for a better result and schedule in front of them. Thursday they will kick off their first post season game of 2018, with their sights set on a return the World Series. Hopefully, with one more win than they had in 2017.
Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP