Dodgers shrug off injuries, hum towards NLDS with series left
The Dodgers have won or split all of their last five series since losing to the Giants back in mid-September. Now they have the chance to rectify that.
At this point, it’s looking fairly likely that the Dodgers will be able to do so. The team is going on all cylinders in recent weeks, with the only tough series coming in the two-game interleague series against the AL Wildcard leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite injuries to Rich Hill, Justin Turner, and Max Muncy and cold stretches from Cody Bellinger and Will Smith, September has brought success for the Dodgers.
Six of the seven series the Dodgers have been in so far this month have ended in wins, including sweeps of the Rockies and Padres. Dodgers pitchers have only allowed 76 runs this month, averaging 3.6 runs allowed per game this month.
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Importantly, depth played a huge role for the Dodgers, allowing them to brush off the injury bug and move into September with some momentum, with minor leaguers Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios, and Gavin Lux all stepping into big roles this month at the plate. Even more important has been the emergence of Tony Gonsolin and even Dustin May, with ‘Cat Man’ doing more work as a starter and May taking on a pure relief role.
Even if the team is not as hot as the Cardinals, Nationals, or Brewers, they still have been winning enough to fend off the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League to maintain home-field advantage through the NLCS.
Last time the Dodgers played the Giants, I wrote about how they’d be tested by Tyler Beede and Jeff Samardzija, both righties who’d beaten the Dodgers before. Sure enough, the Dodgers lost 5–4 and 1–0 to these two starters, despite neither being particularly tough against the rest of the league.
In this series, the Dodgers are scheduled to miss the pair of righties, and instead will be facing Johnny Cueto, rookie Logan Webb, and Madison Bumgarner. Cueto and Webb both have solid stuff from the right side (Webb recently held the Braves to one run in six innings), while Bumgarner is a postseason caliber arm who is once again missing the postseason.
If the Dodgers can win this series against their division rivals, they’ll be on a solid run that could help them take down some of the best in the NL, even if their stars are not at 100%.