Remember April? That 10-12 record the Dodgers owned? Yeah, about that. At this point, that month was just a blip on the radar. A slow start for the Engine that Could, and an Engine that now that it has gotten going, seems difficult to stop.
It is a incredible thing as a fan, though not as a writer, that I am running out of ways to describe this team. All of the records and achievements are constantly on repeat, too — the best record in all of baseball, by eight games over the Houston Astros. They won their 79th game last night — a full month ahead of when they achieved 79 last year, which was Sept 7th. A 15.5 game lead over a team that’s most likely going to win over 90 games in the Colorado Rockies, just to play another good team in the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are also on pace for 90 wins, and are 16 games out of first in the division. There hasn’t been a team that has gone on a stretch like these Dodgers in over 100 years. The 1912 Giants were the last team to win 43 games in a 50 game span. Speaking of the Giants, they currently have 43 total wins — the same about the Dodgers have in their last 50 games. They are on pace to win 115 games — the record being 116 wins, by the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
But, it’s all for naught if the Dodgers don’t win the World Series. Don’t get me wrong, we should enjoy every moment of this regular season. We need to. Something special doesn’t come along like this every year. But I will admit, I think ahead to October more than I should.
A big question is how does Dave Roberts manage a team of this talent, with this many guys contributing night after night, and not have it get stale or complacent? Roberts is indeed lucky to have players like Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe in his dugout. Long veterans of the game, showing everyone else that all you need to do is put your head down, do the work, and the results will continue to show.
Competition and playing time are also a juggling act. With so many players playing well, and so many more right behind them ready to take their place if they should falter, Roberts indeed has his work cut out for him to keep everyone happy.
The pitching especially is an intriguing carousel to watch. The arrival of Yu Darvish on the scene seems to have stepped up everyone’s game a bit. Kenta Maeda is coming off one of his best outings of the year, going seven and scoreless inning against the Atlanta Braves. Hyun-Jin Ryu is also fresh off of two incredible outings, throwing seven scoreless innings in each. Last night he allowed only one hit. Clearly, time spent in the bullpen has benefitted them both.
It’s truly incredible that the starters that are at the ‘bottom’ of the Dodgers lineup are out there killing it. Maeda and Ryu are behind Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish. They’ve combined for a 0.25 ERA in their last 36 innings pitched. That’s insane! The numbers four and five pitchers in the current rotation that would be solid number twos or threes in most other team’s rotations. An embarrassment of riches that allows ace Clayton Kershaw to take as much time as he needs to rest his back and return healthy and strong for the postseason.
What happens down the line remains to be seen, especially when McCarthy and Kershaw return, when Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier return. Could you imagine both those guys off the bench? A come back win due to a Butter and Eggs RBI double.
As an aside, I had to laugh last night. Buster Olney suggested that in the NLDS, the Dodgers rotation would be Kershaw, Darvish, Wood, Kershaw, Darvish. I was under the impression that the reason they got Darvish was so that Kershaw wouldn’t have to pitch on short rest. And if Hill, Maeda and Ryu continue to pitch the way they are, why would you do that to Kershaw? I understand that this is the year for the Dodgers to win it all, but heck, at this point you could throw Hill/Maeda/Ryu for three innings each in game four if you needed. I realize that’s improbable, but it still makes more sense than Kershaw on short rest.
Again, plenty of time to figure that out in the future. For now, we’ll do our best to enjoy this incredible season in front of us. I personally am going to channel my inner Scarlett O’Hara and not think about the postseason now, and think about it tomorrow.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)