For Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, the feeling might be a bit familiar by now.
The Dodgers have a magic number of seven and could clinch their third straight NL West title in the coming weeks. Ethier has been a part of five playoff teams, four that won their division. What Ethier hasn’t experienced is a World Series title, but he does know the feeling of being close to winning the division.
Ethier has enjoyed a resurgence this season following his worst season of his career, and was asked about the team’s focus knowing the division is all but wrapped up. “It’s a catch on both sides,” he said. “You don’t want to get complacent. When you look too far ahead, that’s when you don’t mind the stuff you’re supposed to be doing.”
The longest tenured Dodger has been a part of teams that have clinched early and teams that have clinched with just a couple games left. He understands the importance of playing all 162 games regardless of status. “There’s a reason why the schedule just doesn’t end when someone clinches,” Ethier said.
“You still got to play all those games and finish it out. We got to make sure we handle what’s in front of us. Can’t worry about who we’re going to get the playoffs or where’s it going to be or matchups until we can finish these games.”
With a 7.5 game lead in the division, the San Francisco Giants would need a miracle to overtake the Dodgers; however, the NL West leaders do have something to try and play for. They are currently two games ahead of the New York Mets in the loss column for home-field advantage in the NLDS. Ethier stressed the importance of trying to start and potentially end the series at home. “We got to still go out there and play hard,” he remarked. “Figure out a way to clinch that home-field advantage any way we can.”
It will be a closer race with the Mets than the Giants, meaning the Dodgers will have to finish the season on a high note if they want to start the playoffs at Dodger Stadium.