Dodgers Clinch 8th Consecutive Division Title, Other Notes

All the big news across the baseball blogosphere on Tuesday night surrounded the Dodgers and their eighth straight National League West division title. And, although it doesn’t really mean much in the eyes of many, the win also secured Los Angeles as the No. 1 seed throughout the NL playoffs.

According to most reports, things were mostly business as usual in the clubhouse after the game, as the MLB has apparently discouraged any types of excessive celebrations. Indeed, the Dodgers are no strangers to such a scenario and are unlikely to get caught up in such commotion, anyway. While the squad will definitely be prioritizing just one game at a time come playoff time, a lot of the thinking among the fan base is that anything short of a World Series Championship will be disappointing.

Regardless, skipper Dave Roberts was still able to harness what it means for the team to secure another division title.

“It’s something that a lot of people expect but it should never be taken for granted because as you can see every year there’s a different champion in divisions,” Roberts said Tuesday night. “The consistency we put forth every year is a credit to the entire organization.”

As stated by Roberts, some players on the club did not realize the team was so close to clinching the NL West title.

“Truth be told, there were some guys tonight who didn’t even know we had a chance to clinch,” Roberts said. “I think we were pretty responsible, but I let it be known that this needs to be appreciated because this is not easy.”

Justin Turner

Infielder Justin Turner, who was initially in the lineup against Oakland on Tuesday, was scratched late because of discomfort in his hamstring. The initial plan was to get him back on the field at third base.

“There was just a cramp in his hamstring,” Roberts said. “As he went through his pregame, he felt good then something kind of tightened up. As I understand it, I just talked to Justin briefly a few minutes ago and he says he wants to be in there tomorrow. I’ll have to see how his hamstring responds tomorrow. But when the player says he wants to be in there, that’s a good thing.”

The veteran has served as the designated hitter during each of his five starts since returning from the injured list on September 15, hitting .389 (7-for-18) with three walks over that span.

Joc Pederson

Also on Tuesday night, the Dodgers activated outfielder Joc Pederson from the family emergency leave list after optioning utility man Zach McKinstry to the team’s alternate training site.

According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Pederson’s family situation still might not be resolved, opening the door for perhaps another absence in the foreseeable future during the playoffs.

“Family first. Joc knows that. His family understands that,” Roberts said. “I just know Joc worked real hard to be here with us to finish out this homestand. And I would expect him to be with us through the Wild Card Series. But after that, I just don’t know.”

In the meantime, the Dodgers continue their series with the middle game of a three-game set against Oakland at home on Wednesday. Julio Urias will take the bump for Los Angeles, opposed by southpaw Sean Manaea of Oakland.

First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. Los Angeles time.

Possible World Series Preview? Thoughts on Final Week of Season

Another regular season is coming to an end, but this was like no other. From being shortened to the uncertainty of games due to the COVID-19 pandemic made it different than any other we’ve witnessed. But here we are in the final week of the season, and the Dodgers are at the cusp of their eighth consecutive National League West Division title. Already having clinched a postseason berth, the Dodgers seem to be destined for that No. 1 seed.

The Dodgers took care of business in the regular season, but the real thing begins in the postseason. The newly added three-game opening round will certainly cause more nerves in fans. However, the Dodgers have only lost one three-game series this year. But, like we’ve all seen in recent years, anything can happen in the postseason.

As of now, that eighth spot is up for grabs, currently sitting there are the Phillies. But the Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, and Giants are all within two games of that spot. The Reds are 8-2 in their last 10 games , moving them up to a 28-27 record. Personally, I think out of those teams the Reds poise the biggest threat. This is due to the pitchers they can trot out during a short series in Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo, all of whom are aces, essentially. Neverhteless, regardless of whatever team gets that last spot, the Dodgers will be favorites and will be expected to take care of business.

The last two series of the season will be against American League teams. The first beginning Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics and then finishing the season with the Los Angeles Angels. The Athletics and Dodgers series will see two of the top teams in the majors face off.

There has been buzz that this could be a World Series preview, and the Athletics did just clinch the American League West. Oakland is currently the third seed in the American League behind the White Sox and Rays, so any of those teams could make a deep run in October. It would be a nice story if the Dodgers and Athletics meet since the Dodgers could win it all for the first time since 1988 when they took down the Athletics.

During this series, the Dodgers can clinch the division and also be the first team to 40 wins. The magic number for the division currently sits at two. If the Dodgers win today, combined with a Padres loss, they will have clinched. The Padres play the Angels, so that will be a game to scoreboard watch.

The first game of the three-game series Oakland will be started by Dustin May. May has a great season, as he stepped in when Clayton Kershaw went down with a back injury on Opening Day. May did take a liner off his foot back on September 10 but looked comfortable pitching out of the bullpen against the Padres last Wednesday. He pitched 5.1 innings and only allowed one earned run. On the season in multiple roles, he’s posted a 2.68 ERA and a 1-1 record.

The Dodgers will face righty Frankie Montas who spent time in the Dodgers organization years ago. Montas was brought to the Dodgers in a trade with the White Sox and spent about a year in the minors both in Double A and Triple A until he was traded to Oakland for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.

Montas is 3-4 this season with a 5.86 ERA. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. Pacific time.

The Dodgers hope to use the remaining games as tuneups before the postseason begins. While this season was a bit of a blur, I think all baseball fans can agree that we’re just grateful we were able to have some baseball.

Dodgers Look to Use Last Two Series as Tuneups for Postseason

Even though it was a much shortened season, it still feels like we’ve reached the end of the season so quickly. Today is the last off day for the Dodgers during the regular season, with the playoffs starting next Wednesday.

Los Angeles did well in their series at Coors Field, winning three of the four games. The offense put up its biggest outing of the year by scoring 15 runs in Saturday’s game. Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin continue to impress, and once Julio Urias got over his first inning struggles, he also was able to tamper the Rockies’ bats.

The Dodgers are done playing teams within their division. They will close out the 2020 regular season with two three-games series against the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The next six games should be used as a tuning up for the playoffs. The Dodgers can clinch their eighth division title as early as Tuesday, if they win their first game against the A’s and the San Diego Padres lose to the Angels. Their lead over the Padres currently sits at 4.0 games.

One of the biggest worries for Dodger fans heading into the postseason is the state of the offense. For most of the season, last year’s NL MVP Cody Bellinger has not looked at all like his 2019 self. But things may finally be turning in the right direction for the the centerfielder. In his last seven games, Belli is slashing .320/.433/.520 with a home run and two doubles, five RBI and five walks. He seems to have made an adjustment where he has moved back from the plate, and it seems to be paying off. If he can continue this success through the playoffs, the Dodgers might be able to avoid previous postseason pitfalls.

Max Muncy seems to be the only player that’s hasn’t yet hit his stride at the plate. He is still hitting under the Mendoza line, and has only four hits in his last seven games. I’m unsure what’s going on with Muncy, but should he be able to find whatever is missing in the next week, the NL better watch out.

Regardless, the Dodgers could be able to withstand Muncy not hitting well. Chris Taylor has been his normal dependable self, hitting two homers, a double and a triple in the last week. Mookie Betts and Justin Turner will always be reliable in their batting, and Corey Seager is just having a fantastic year at the plate. Will Smith, when he is catching, is having a great year, and A.J. Pollock looks much better than years previous. We all know the Dodgers have the best offense in the National League. The question unfortunately remains will it remain that throughout the playoffs.

On Monday, Joc Pederson was reinstated from the family emergency leave list. Rookie Zach McKinstry was option back to the alternate site.

Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on a Prospective Playoff Rotation

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Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

While we all know that there’s a very good chance the Dodgers walk away with the National League’s top playoff seed, what we don’t know is how the team will put together its starting playoff rotation.

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Mookie Betts Shining Amid Another MVP Race

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While many fans of the Dodgers had a general idea about the measure of talent Mookie Betts brought with him over the winter, some did not believe he would make an immediate, MVP-type of impact.

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Key Takeaways from Dodgers and Padres Series; Preview of Upcoming Rockies Series

Well, it wasn’t necessarily pretty or polished, but the Dodgers did what needed to be done against the San Diego Padres, taking two game out of three and re-extending their lead in the NL West. The Dodgers now lead the division by 3.5 games with 10 games to go in the regular season.

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Dodgers Extend Division Lead Over Padres, Clinch Playoff Berth

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(USA TODAY Sports photo)

In what was perhaps their most meaningful series so far this season, the Dodgers handled rival San Diego in the three-game set two games to one, re-stretching their division lead to 3-1/2 games. In the process, they were the first major league club to clinch a berth in the 2020 postseason.

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Dodgers’ Lead Down To 1.5 Games, Turner Returns

(Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

In what is a very crucial series, the Dodgers saw their lead diminish to only 1.5 games ahead of the red-hot San Diego Padres after the first game. All seemed well when the Dodgers were leading 1-0, but then came the 7th inning and the Padres just mounted it on for a 7-2 victory.

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Dodgers Start Pivotal Series Against Padres with NL West Title on the Line

Note to self – do not title a blog post “Do the Dodgers Have a Pitching Problem” because then, they really will.

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4 Things to Watch During Final Weeks of Regular Season

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(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Before the beginning of Sunday’s games, the Dodgers still had the best record in the majors at 32-14. They sat in front of NL West rival San Diego by a full three games, and their inclusion in the 2020 postseason playoff picture is imminent. However, there’s been a ton of discussions about potential home field advantage and what it might mean in the postseason.

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