The Dodgers are now heading into the dog days of summer, with an 18 game lead in their division and a nine game lead for home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.
The schedule from here on out seems pretty easy, as the Dodgers only face two teams who currently have a record over .500, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. It could be easy to fall into complacency, accepting that you are good and maybe having to work hard to maintain that competitive edge.
In 2017, the Dodgers also enjoyed a huge lead in both division and home field advantage and ended up going on a huge losing streak through the end of August and September, losing 11 in a row at one point.
Last season, the Dodgers had to fight for every win and couldn’t win the division until the 163rd game. This season is reminiscent of 2017, and manager Dave Roberts will be tasked with not letting the team fall into that slide again.
The Dodgers do have some things to work out between now and October, however, and that is who will be on the roster come playoff time. David Freese, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are all set to begin their rehab assignments in the next week if not sooner. The player who have been filling in for them might find themselves out of a job.
Tyler White would probably be the first one to be DFA’d. His current slash line is .071/.235/.017/.307. Easy decision. Edwin Rios, also currently with the club, will be sent back down. But the next two spots aren’t quite so clear. Unlike White, Kristopher Negron has made the most of his time with the Dodgers. His slash line with Los Angeles is .391/.471/.652/1.069 and two home runs in seven games. Small sample size to be sure, but he’s opening some eyes.
Matt Beaty also has done a great job with his time with the big club. He’s hitting .292 with five homers and seems to have a knack to be cool and collected when a big moment comes up in the game. While he’s been up and down from Triple-A Oklahoma City all season, he has been with the club since the end of April and has worked to earn his keep.
The Dodgers have the happy problem of too many good players and the ability to swap one out for another when one hits the the IL or the goes on a big slide at the plate. The competition against themselves to remain on the team and ready for the postseason is there, even if the competition across the field might not be.
One other thing for the Dodgers to keep working towards is home field advantage in the World Series. They are currently one game ahead of the New York Yankees, and two ahead of the Houston Astros. Both of those teams are also leading their divisions pretty handily, and maybe they could be susceptible to those same dog days of summer. Just a few things to keep an eye on besides the games themselves.
The Dodgers start a three game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Dodgers Stadium. Pitching matchups will be Robbie Ray and Walker Buehler tonight; Alex Young And Kenta Maeda on Saturday; and Mike Leake and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday.