If the playoffs began today, Dodgers players would be spending their postseason at home or on vacation for the first time since 2012. As of August 20, they trail the NL West lead by two games and the second wild-card spot by 1.5 games. Fortunately for Los Angeles, there is still over a month left in the regular season. The news gets even better when examining their schedule down the stretch.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports ranked the difficulty of schedules among contenders, listing the
Dodgers with the fifth easiest schedule among 14 teams.
Ranking contenders' schedules, from hardest to easiest:
8) Red Sox
Want more detail? It's all here: https://t.co/62SNzVuQmn
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 20, 2018
Up to this point, the Dodgers second-half schedule has been enervating. Coming off the All-Star break, they played 26 games in 27 days, with only 10 of those games being at home. The only series during that span where they did not face a playoff contender was against the Giants.
Looking towards the end of the season, the Dodgers will face teams in the bottom half of the standings. Their only difficulties will be facing the Cardinals, Rockies, and Diamondbacks, for two series each. Their other opponents will include the Padres, Rangers, Mets, Reds and three games in San Francisco to close the season. The Dodgers also have five off days before the end of the year.
Passan ranked the Rockies with the sixth most difficult schedule. Although they trail the Diamondbacks by 0.5 games and are tied for a wild-card spot, FiveThirtyEight gives them a 50% chance of making the playoffs. The Dodgers, who trail Colorado, still have a 62% chance of playing in the postseason.
From Sept. 7-30, Colorado will get only one off day, with their only series against a non-contending team coming against the Giants. The Rockies also have a history of falling short down the stretch. They have not experienced a winning record in the second half of the year since 2009.
The greatest beacon of hope for Dodgers fans is the Diamondbacks’ schedule down the stretch. Passan assigned Arizona with the most difficult schedule among contenders. They will play within their division 22 times before the end of the season. Their games outside their division will include the Angels, Mariners, Braves, Astros, and Cubs, all of whom have a record of at least .500.
FiveThirtyEight still gives Arizona a 62% chance of reaching the postseason, and they lead the division by 0.5 games.
The Dodgers could not ask for a better situation down the stretch. They possess a minimal deficit in the standings and their competitors are dealing with difficult schedules in September. From 2013-17, their first-half record was .571 while their second-half record was .600. If the Dodgers can perform the way they have in the past and win games down the stretch, they should find themselves back in the mix for October baseball.
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