The Los Angeles Dodgers flexed their bulging biceps all over the Atlanta Braves with a series sweep in the 2020 NLCS rematch. As the Dodgers are getting back to full strength, they are simultaneously getting hot. There is not a better time for this to happen than the first day of September. Furthermore, the former NL West-leading San Francisco Giants lost two of three to the same Braves last week, and have lost all three games against the Milwaukee Brewers this week. They will play one more against the Brewers Thursday afternoon.
The Dodgers entered Wednesday night half of a game behind the Giants. They ended Wednesday night half a game in front of them to take over first place in the NL West. However, before everyone in LA breaks out the champagne, it is important to remember that the Giants can tie the Dodgers if they beat the Brewers Thursday. The Dodgers are off on Thursday. Then, the Dodgers are going to meet the Giants in San Francisco for a three-game series starting on Friday–their last meeting of the 2021 regular season. Another Dodgers sweep would really sting for the Giants.
Potential Playoff Preview
This is what September baseball is all about. The Dodgers have not tasted first place since April 26th. It has been a rough season with all the injuries and the Trevor Bauer incident that is still pending, but the Dodgers are getting back to as full-strength as they are going to get, and they are heating up at the right time. It is a storybook September when these two bitter rivals have the top two records in all of baseball (Giants are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for second-best) meet to decide who will lead the NL West. One thing to note is that both the Dodgers and Giants were facing other first-place teams in the National League.
This really is a potential preview of the postseason because the division leaders in the NL are the Braves, The Brewers, and the Dodgers. The two Wild Card spots go to the Giants and the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers just played the Braves–ending in a Dodgers sweep, they start the Series with the Giants on Friday, they head to Cincinnati to play those red-hot Reds in two weeks, and they finish the regular season against the Brewers two weeks later. The Reds have been slumping a bit lately, going 6-and-4 in their last 10 games, but they beat the ST. Louis Cardinals unmercifully today, 12-2. So they could be breaking out of it and starting to pick up steam for the home stretch.
Prepare for the Race
The Dodger pitching has done a great job lately. Not only have the starters done very well to keep them right-in games, but the bullpen has done a great job finishing those games off. They gave up five runs only once in their last nine games–thanks to a three-run homer in the top of the first inning of a bullpen game against the Colorado Rockies last Sunday. The other two runs were on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. The Dodgers’ pitching is right on track and the hitting is following suit.
In order to take their ninth-straight NL West Division Title, they will need to get Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor to start producing again. It is only a matter of time for both of those veteran players who have been here before. Also, Clayton Kershaw is very near to a return from the IL, which is just one more problem that teams will have on their plates. The Dodgers are playing great baseball and are clearly having fun right now. Buckle-up ladies and gentlemen, because it seems like we are in for a wild ride down the stretch.
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