While the Los Angeles Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the division sits at 10 entering Friday’s series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it should be a blue October barring an epic collapse with only 16 regular-season games remaining on the schedule.
This of course isn’t unchartered territory for the Dodgers, as they’ve won the National League West division the last two seasons. By reaching the playoffs in a third consecutive season, it would mark the first time in franchise history that’s been accomplished.
Although the Dodgers are currently dealing with injuries to several keys players, Kenley Jansen said recently he believes the club is in for a deeper postseason run than in 2013 and 2014 because of improvement across the board, via Time Warner Cable’s SportsnetLA:
I think we play more as a team. We’re not playing as individuals. Everything we’re doing lately is as a team; we’ve moved runners over, got them in, and we’re pitching better. Even in the clubhouse, the atmosphere is more together and as a team. It’s been great for us this year.
This isn’t the first time Jansen has strongly voiced his support for the 2015 Dodgers. In July, he didn’t hesitate to proclaim this year’s bullpen a much-improved group when compared to last season’s group of relievers.
Outside of Jansen the Dodgers’ bullpen has largely been inconsistent, but done well recently with Chris Hatcher righting the ship after a rough first half. For as much attention as clinching the division has garnered, it’s also important to keep an eye on the New York Mets for home-field advantage.
Given that the St. Louis Cardinals are likely to secure the best overall record in the NL and thus face the Wild Card winner, the Dodgers and Mets are headed toward an NL Division Series that’ll feature plenty of elite starting pitchers.