After a very blip where the Los Angeles Dodgers won 106 games but not the NL West last season, they are once again on top of their division, clinching early and in commanding fashion.
On Tuesday night, led by another stellar Clayton Kershaw outing, and with their magic number at one, the Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0 to win the NL West. With 20 games left, the Dodgers have a 20.5 game lead over the second place San Diego Padres.
“The game itself was kind of like our whole season in a nutshell”, Kershaw remarked. Kersh threw seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Joey Gallo, Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy all hit homers. And Trea Turner and Mookie Betts showed off their stellar defense. Chris Taylor stole a base, and Craig Kimbrel came in to close out the game. A great synopsis of what this team can do.
September 13th is one of the earliest dates the Dodgers have ever secured the division, and it is their ninth division title in the last 10 seasons.
With last night’s game, the Dodgers have already secured their single-season franchise record in run differential, at +320. That number is the highest in MLB since the 2001 Seattle Mariners and as stated, there are still 20 games to go.
The Dodgers are definitely taking time to appreciate the cushion that winning the division so early gives them. In 2021, the team was forced to push hard to the end of the season to try to steal the NL West back from the surprisingly good San Francisco Giants. In the end, the Dodgers lost the division by one run, with the Giants winning 107 games to L.A.’s 106, and the Dodgers ended losing Max Muncy to an injury in the process.
“What a difference a year makes”, manager Dave Roberts said in the clubhouse while celebrating. “To look out, 141 games and we’ve clinched the division, it’s something we should enjoy”.
“I think we found firsthand what fighting to 162, what it does to your team”, Roberts also posited. “It takes a toll”.
With those 20 games remaining, the Dodgers have a very good chance of beating last year’s record of most wins in team history. Besting the MLB record of 116 wins is possible although not probable, as they would have to go 18-2 to do so.
The Dodgers now have the luxury of having a whole month to figure out their roster and pitching rotation for the postseason. They currently have a nine game lead over the NL West leading New York Mets for home field throughout the NL playoffs, and a six game lead over the Houston Astros for home field in the World Series, should those teams be the two to meet for the championship.
The Dodgers still have some relief pitchers working on injuries, as well as Tony Gonsolin still unsure if he will return to the starting rotation. In the next few weeks, that will all work itself out. For now, the team and their fans can just enjoy in the dominance that is the 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers.