While many fans of the Dodgers anticipated a much tighter division race at the beginning of the season, the final meeting between Los Angeles and San Francisco at Dodger Stadium this year has little impact on the way the NL West is turning out.
Before Monday’s first pitch, the Dodgers own a full 19-game lead over the Padres. The Giants are still on the southside of .500 with a 64-68 record and 27-1/2 games out of first place.
Just because the NL West is wrapped up, though, doesn’t mean the Dodgers can breathe easy, as there’s still plenty of work to do. The Mets are certainly in distance to contend for homefield advantage, plus the Dodgers still have a ton of decisions to make for multiple parts of the roster over the final 29 games.
The starting rotation remains one of the biggest discussion topics for fans, as injuries have played a huge role over these final few months for the prospective playoff outlook. A lot of the playoff success could depend on the health of veteran Clayton Kershaw, especially if Tony Gonsolin is unable to return at 100% in a reasonable time frame.
The good news for Gonsolin is that the MRI on his forearm Friday came back clean and he played catch at Dodger Stadium in the outfield over the weekend. If everything goes well, the righty could return to the team on September 15.
Reliever Brusdar Graterol’s MRI on Friday also came back clean, leading some to believe he could potentially contribute down the stretch. Both Victor Gonzalez and Tommy Kahnle continue to progress on their respective rehab assignments, giving the team some options on fortifying the bullpen, especially on a somewhat vulnerable front end.
While the position-player portion of the roster appears to be relatively set, there are seemingly a handful of battles determining which players will prospectively receive the most postseason playing time. Although hiss starts are few and far between, Trayce Thompson continues to make a strong case as the starting left fielder over fellow righty hitter Chris Taylor. In some ways, Thompson could even make more sense as better options over Joey Gallo or Cody Bellinger, regardless of the opposing pitcher’s handedness.
Right now, Thompson is hitting .293/.389/.564, while Taylor is batting .223, Bellinger .202 and Gallo .193 since his arrival in Los Angeles.
Although Gavin Lux has been fighting problematic neck issues, he figures to play an important role as the club’s primary second baseman in the playoffs.
Lefty Andrew Heaney gets the ball in Monday’s opener for the Dodgers, and an impressive stretch run could see the lefty be a potential playoff contributor, especially if injuries continue to plague the pitching staff over the next four weeks.