With a three and a half game lead on the Diamondbacks and only 16 games left to play, 10 wins in our last 11 games, and a 93% chance of winning the NL West, it would be easy to start thinking that the playoffs are a certainty, the postseason a lock. Here come your 2008 NL West Champion Dodgers, right?
Well, the Dodgers aren't thinking about the playoffs (at least, the unselfish ones aren't). And neither am I, and here's why:
- Just two weeks ago, the Dodgers were on an eight-game losing streak that included a sweep by the lowly Washington Nationals, and it looked like that freefall would never end and Joe Torre had no remedy;
- The Diamondbacks are underperforming how they should be playing, largely driven by their reeling aces Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, and Randy Johnson--any one of which could quickly get back on track and get them on a 2007-Rockies-like winning streak to end the season in a flurry;
- Jonathan Broxton, still adjusting to the high pressures of the closer role, could easily get the butterflies;
- Derek Lowe, who has found his groove over his last three starts, could be hurt by that comebacker in Wednesday's game;
- Joe Torre could keep trotting Juan Pierre or Andruw Jones as starting outfielders, Mark Sweeney as a pinch-hitter, and Brad Penny as a starting pitcher;
- Jeff Kent could demand his second base spot back;
- Let's remember here: outside of Manny, no one else on this team can mash (Matt Kemp
leads the teamis second on the team with 16 home runs (Andre Ethier has 20), and Ramirez is only two behind Kemp despite having been a Dodger for only about six weeks);
- This road trip could turn to hell in a handbasket, particularly against the still-alive Rockies and the nothing-to-lose Pirates;
- The Dodgers' remaining games after that are against the always-happy-to-play-spoiler Padres and the arch-rival Giants, the latter of which will include at least one if not more Tim Lincecum starts (Lincecum is vying for a Cy Young, and is 5-0 with a 2.00 era since his last loss).
- I hate hearing all the voodoo math, like, "if the Dodgers go .500 from here on out, the Snakes have to go 12-5 just to tie." The Rockies won 14 of their last 15 games last year, including a streak of 11 straight, to make the playoffs and get all the way to the World Series. It can happen. And for these streaky Dodgers, good can come just as suddenly as bad.
So no, I'm not planning for the playoffs just yet, and I'm certainly not breathing easy. Seven games left on this roadtrip, Dodgers--let's keep playing ball hard, like we've done all September!