Dodgers: 3 rival players who could derail LA’s NL West chase

Adam Weinrib
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 10: Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 10, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 10: Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 10, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Blake Snell #4 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants have frustratingly sprinted past 40 games over .500 (why is this happening?!), and there’s a lot to hate about how they’re likely to perform moving forward, too.

But, as Trea Turner said, the Dodgers just can’t be thinking about that right now. The Giants aren’t showing up to Chavez Ravine. As painful as it might seem, LA simply has to prepare for the teams on their schedule, dispatch of them, and hope San Francisco stumbles, too.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t do Trea’s worrying for him.

Seeing as it’s September, that means division rivals abound in the final weeks of LA’s final slate. The Rockies show up for a series, Arizona appears multiple times on the docket, and the Padres ain’t quite done with us yet (and they’ll still probably be scratching and clawing in the Wild Card race).

Even though the season series with San Francisco has concluded, we couldn’t remove them from this list for obvious reasons; they’ll be the Dodgers’ most relevant rival down the stretch regardless, and they’ve got a few white-hot players who’ve conspired to ruin our lives as the lights have gotten brighter.

Which players should Dodgers fans be keeping an eye on?

Consider these the top three guys who Trea Turner’s probably going to be tired of hearing about by the time September ends.

3 Dodgers rivals who could derail LA’s chase for the NL West.

3. Blake Snell

Laughing at Blake Snell for his premature World Series exit seemed like a fine way to go about things back in the season’s first half, when every short start seemed to further justify the Rays jettisoning him out west.

Now, obviously, Tampa Bay is just fine without him, but Snell’s regained his form and has turned into a menace down the stretch for a Padres team that has otherwise been treading water. In his five most recent starts, the lefty has a 1.98 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched.

But … about those “most recent” starts …

One labeled a “left adductor strain”of them came Sunday against the Dodgers; Snell retired the first two batters he faced, then limped off with an injury, by Padres brass. According to manager Jayce Tingler, he’s dealt with this issue often in his past, and it typically gets exacerbated later in games after he’s exerted more energy. Sometimes he’s able to overcome it quickly (and the lefty’s apparently walking well in the aftermath of Sunday’s departure) … but sometimes he isn’t. That looms large, as the Pads face the Giants in seven of their next 10 games.

If Snell’s able to go full-bore, then that’s fantastic for the Dodgers; he’s 1-0 with a 4.30 ERA in three starts against San Fran this year, striking out 19 in 14.2 innings pitched. If he’s not, though, that leads to more Nabil Crismatt/improvised bullpen nonsense in games where LA could really use the Pads’ best efforts.

Surely, Snell will be back in full force when the Padres and Dodgers meet during the second-to-last series of the season, though. More than any other Padre, the linchpin of last year’s World Series could alter the division race.

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