For the fifth consecutive season, the Dodgers have won the NL West. Rich Hill pitched a gem, Bellinger blasted a 3-run shot, his 39th of the year setting a new rookie record, and it was Tommy Lasorda's 90th birthday.
All of the unpleasantness of the losing streaks that preceded the evening seemed worth it tonight to be able to clinch at home.
The Dodgers can finally exhale after what has been a rough two months. The team went 17 and 10 in August and are 7-15 so far in September. With a record of 98-56 on the year, I have no doubt that they'll end up getting those last two wins to make it at least 100 on the season. There's no reason for them to step on the gas all the way to the finish line. The division has been won, along with home field advantage with the best record overall. Going forward, it's important that their key players get the rest they need for a successful postseason.
Their pitching staff, in particular, can now give young arms a chance to start these next few games. I'd rather see Walker Buehler make an earlier appearance, or maybe even a spot start, rather than overwork Darvish and Kershaw. Players like Corey Seager and Justin Turner can focus on recovering from injury without feeling too much pressure to get back to the starting lineup right away.
We'll most likely start to see more of Alex Verdugo in the next week. Verdugo is being hailed as the next great young rookie to come up through the minors for the Dodgers. Kyle Farmer and Austin Barnes should be in that mix as well. It would be an excellent time for these rookies to put on a show of their own to see if they qualify as that unexpected talent to make it onto the postseason roster.
The Dodgers have a chance now to put their feet up a bit, relax for a few days and look back at a great season. Because once the calendar turns to October, none of that matters. That's when the real battle for this team begins. Once it's all said and done, the Dodgers will either be legends, or just another story of a great team and what could have been.
What do you expect from the Dodgers for the remainder of the season? Comment below!