We Dodger fans have spent a lot of time over the last month or so lamenting that the team needs to start winning, or it will be too late. Well, I think that we may have actually arrived at the Make or Break Weekend.
Friday, the Dodgers begin what essentially is the make-or-break series of the year with the Colorado Rockies. Heading into the three game set, the Dodgers are 1.5 games back from the first place Rockies. The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently sitting 2.5 games out of first.
In the worst case scenario, the Rockies sweep the Dodgers, and they find themselves 4.5 games back, and the dreams of returning to the playoffs is most likely over. We’re not even going to even entertain that thought.
If the Dodgers only win one game, then they would sit 2.5 games out, and still face a tough road ahead. They have to face St. Louis, Arizona, and Colorado for one more series each, as well as the Padres and Giants.
Win two of three, and one could feel pretty good about the Dodgers chances. Sweep the Rockies, and one would feel a whole heck of a lot better, either scenario has the Dodgers leaving Denver for Cincinnati in first place.
One point of worry, of course, is the bullpen. Closer Kenley Jansen is staying behind in Los Angeles, deferring to team doctors who urged him not to travel to the Mile High City and risk having more heart problems like he endured the last time the Dodgers were there. Dave Roberts has effectively said that Pedro Baez will be the closer/pitcher used in high leverage situations. While that may instill fear in many Dodger fans, Baez has been very good lately, not allowing a run since Aug 9.
But the Dodgers do have quite a few things in their favor heading into this series. Their road record this season is better than their home record. The Dodgers are inherently a home run hitting team, and Coors Field is a great place for hitting long balls. Los Angeles is sending it’s top two pitchers to the mound to start the series in Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler.
The Rockies are feeling pretty good about themselves, being in first place and coming off a sweep of the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers are coming in to town having lost two of three to the New York Mets, and off one of, if not the, stupidest losses of the season.
Quoting my friend Jody from Twitter, “So much hinging on games played in a stadium where the stadium itself is just as much of a contributor as each team.” (I’d link the tweet but the rest is not safe for work.) But it’s true. One never can accurately predict what will happen in Coors Field, and that just adds to our collective anxiety about the series. It’s definitely a series that the Dodgers should be able to take, given their good starting pitching and offensive fire power. They handled what they needed to handle with Arizona. But in the way this season has gone, who knows? It’s playoff baseball weeks before the actual playoffs start and we can only hope the Dodgers come out on top. If not, their playoff dreams could very well be over.