With the Los Angeles Dodgers set to begin their Cactus League schedule today against the Arizona Diamondbacks, an ESPN baseball analyst took the time to rank the strength of every National League team’s early season schedule.
Last season, the Dodgers struggled in the early part of the season and sat in last place at 30-42 on June 21, but that was mostly due to injuries rather than their strength of schedule.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Dodgers rank in the lower third of the NL in terms of early-season strength of schedule:
13. Los Angeles Dodgers
Games vs. teams with records of .500 or better in 2013: 13 of first 42.
Home/road: 22 of first 42 are at home.
Notables: As Zack Greinke knows all too well, the Dodgers open in Australia and so there’s no telling what the impact of that trip will be, with jet lag, etc. But once they get past that … well, they have a relatively soft opening, with only one series against a power from the NL Central or East (Washington) before May 26.
The only teams with easier early schedules are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves, the teams that the Dodgers passed in the NL West and beat in the NLDS, respectively. More than half of the Dodgers’ games in the beginning of the year are at home and as long as they can stay healthy, the team should have no problem jumping out to a strong record.
A majority of the Dodgers early games are in the division against the Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Their toughest series will be with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals. If the Dodgers can get off to a good start, they’ll be in position to control the division and potentially have a large enough lead late in the season to give their starters some rest for the postseason.
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