These 3 guys will play a huge role in the last part of the season Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
The Dodgers and Giants will play a significant series in the middle of September for the first time since 2004, as Grant Brisbee points out. Having the Dodgers and Giants do well at the same time is kind of a strange thing, 2012 the Dodgers came close to joining the Giants in the postseason, but were crushed on the second to the last day of the season. Dodgers-Giants, September, playoff race there is something right about that, certainly.
The series is huge, you know it, I know it, everybody knows it lots of things could change this weekend and this series is massive. (yet it’s somehow secondary to the series that the Dodgers play at home in 10 days), so lets go ahead and highlight some things:
It’s a big series
A lot can swing on the outcome of 3 games. The magic number to clinch the division could be down to 9 by the end of the weekend, the Dodgers could be down 1 game by the end of the weekend, Yasiel Puig could look cured fully, Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu look amazing and the Dodgers take a 5 game lead back to Coors field. OR the Dodgers look mediocre, the big 3 look just human enough, Bumgarner, Hudson, and Petit become bonafide aces, the bullpen struggles, and the offense lays an egg, and are a game back going into the final 16 games. And anything inbetween, really, but one thing’s for sure:
The Dodgers have the upper hand
Yep, they do, for a couple of reasons, the fact that they have as good or better pitchers going in every single game this series helps. Ryu has been just as good as Madison Bumgarner without the innings pitched, Zack Greinke has been his usual good self while Tim Hudson has shown his age recently, and Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the face of the earth. This earth also has Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, etc, etc. Clayton is better than all of them. The fact that Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez are hot, they have carried the offense recently, and despite the mean words I have said about AGon and Crawford, the Dodgers have needed it and will continue to need it as long as Hanley and Puig are struggling. But the biggest thing is:
The Dodgers have a 2 game lead
You throw out everything else, and focus on this: the Giants are down. The Giants are 2 games back, and if they don’t win 3 games this weekend, they are guaranteed to go into the final 13 games of the season without a division lead. I like the Dodgers chances regardless of who’s pitching (well, not 3 Chris Perez‘s, but still). Now, what’s the significance of this?
If the Dodgers lose 2/3, that’s okay
This is controversial, I get it, you want to win as many games as you can to put yourself in the best position possible, it’s true. However, as long as the Dodgers don’t get swept (which would be a total and utter shock if they lose 3 straight games started by Ryu-Greinke-Kershaw), they will have a lead going into the final 13 games, which is big because:
The Dodgers have a pretty easy last 13 games
The stretch run will involve 3 teams. After the Dodgers face the Giants in San Francisco, the Dodgers go to face the dreadful Rockies, go to the Cubs who have just lost 6 straight, face the Giants at home, and then face the Rockies at the Ravine. The Giants schedule isn’t any harder, but the key is to have the lead going into this stretch of games. Finally,
The Giants will have to face Ryu-Greinke-Kershaw 6 times in the last 16 games
There are 16 games left in the season, the Dodgers and Giants play 6 games. In those 6 games, the scheduled starters read Ryu-Greinke-Kershaw for the 3 game set up north, and then the following 3 games at home read Ryu-Greinke-Kershaw. In order to gain any ground in these series’, the Giants will have to beat any one of those pitchers 4 times, OR hope that the Dodgers totally collapse against the Rockies and Cubs
If the Giants steal the division from the Dodgers, they will have to go through the absolute best the Dodgers have to offer, and honestly? It’s a good test, but maybe all the worry surrounding this last patch of the season is overblown because “OMG THE GIANTS ARE SCARY CAUSE THEY’VE WON RECENTLY”.
Is it a big series? Of course it is. It is the biggest series the Dodgers will have to play in the remainder of the regular season? Not even close.