The Los Angeles Dodgers not only snapped their 11-game losing streak last night but also clinched a playoff berth with a 5-3 win over the last-place San Francisco Giants.
Nice as that win must be, the Dodgers are only just beginning the real work that comes with clinching a spot in the postseason.
The most important step for the Dodgers now is to ensure that the team’s foot is on the gas pedal over the last weeks of the regular season. Los Angeles has 17 games remaining and will hopefully beat the Giants again tonight at AT&T Park, but then things get a bit more difficult.
The Dodgers then travel to the east coast for a seven-game road trip for three games against the first-place Washington Nationals followed by four with the Philadelphia Phillies. Los Angeles then travels back to Dodger Stadium for its final homestand before closing out the season in Colorado. There are no days off during the trip out east and the only remaining off day is on September 28, the day before the Rockies series begins.
This means that the Dodgers could find themselves travel weary thanks to the time change, but they’re going to have no choice but to power through it if they want the losing streak to become a distant memory.
Looking toward October
The work the Dodgers have to do also comes in the form of manager Dave Roberts deciding just who is going to represent his team in the playoffs. Los Angeles needs to trim its roster accordingly for that and given how the team performed during the losing streak, getting outscored 74-30.
This means that for all intents and purposes, everyone currently on the MLB roster should consider themselves on the chopping block regardless of how they have performed during the regular season. Take starter Alex Wood, for example. He is 14-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.08 WHIP on the year but has gone 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA and 2.18 WHIP this month.
Similarly, Japanese righty Kenta Maeda has averaged less than four innings a start in his last three appearances.
And some veteran hitters should also watch out for not making the postseason roster. Outfielder Curtis Granderson has hit four home runs with eight RBI since being acquired from the New York Mets last month but is hitting a measly .107. Logan Forsythe, who is already hitting an unimpressive .227 on the year, is batting .188 this month.
That isn’t to say that Roberts should keep anyone underperforming this month off of the postseason roster, but he should stress that getting comfortable with a playoff berth in hand is not an option. If anything, the Dodgers should be playing harder now that the streak is over so as to prove that they can indeed still make a deep run.
If Los Angeles can pull itself up by its bootstraps and close out the season with a bang, then its championship hopes will be far from dead in the water.
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