Dodgers can win it all

Can anyone catch the N.L. West leaders?

Dodgers fans are having a great summer. They watched their team go from trading the bottom floor of the National League West Division with the San Diego Padres, to taking sole possession of the division lead, ahead of their closest N.L. West rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, by 12.5 games. Since the All Star break, they have won 36 of 45 games. That’s a winning percentage of .800.

That’s a remarkable stat when you consider they’ve only had three days off in 45 days of play — and that includes traveling. For instance, the Dodgers swept the San Diego Padres at home over the holiday weekend in a three-game series and then got on a plane to meet the Colorado Rockies the next day. Every team does it, but not every team is playing .800 ball.

Their record for the season is 82-55 so there are the fans that wonder, “What if …”

The Dodgers got off to a bad start and there’s no erasing that from the record. But when you look around the major leagues, we can see the Men in Blue have nearly even records with all the other division leaders. Only five games separate the six division leaders. Seven actually. The Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers are tied for the lead in the A.L. West.

The best record in the majors right now belongs to the Atlanta Braves, who are 84-53. They are 15 games ahead of their closest rival in the N.L. East and it appears unlikely the Washington Nationals will challenge the Braves or even compete for the N.L. Wild Card berth.

That honor will most likely come from the N.L. Central Division. The Pittsburgh Pirates hold a slim one game margin over the St. Louis Cardinals, with an 80-57 record.

Batting practice for the Boston Red Sox before one of their games against the L.. Dodgers Chavez ravine. (Photo by Claudia Gestro)
Batting practice for the Boston Red Sox before one of their games against the L.. Dodgers Chavez ravine.
(Claudia Gestro)

No one ever counts out the Cardinals. They went into the 2011 playoffs as the Wild Card contenders and emerged on the other side as World Series Champions.

In the American League the standings are just as even. The Boston Red Sox have the best record: 82-57. They have the distinction of playing in probably the best division in baseball right now: the A.L. East has four out of five teams with winning records.

The Tampa Bay Rays are five and a half games out, so they are certainly within striking distance even this late in the season. But the Sox have won 17 of their last 30 games, which isn’t as good a record as the Dodgers, but then, the Sox beat the Dodgers twice during their three-game series in L.A. a couple weeks ago.

Could the Baltimore Orioles or the New York Yankees challenge for the division lead, being seven and a half and eight games out respectively? Yes, but that’s a tall order for either team. They could challenge for the A.L. Wild Card berth.

In the A.L. Central the Detroit Tigers reign supreme. Eight and a half games ahead of the Cleveland Indians, the Tigers could probably start ordering Division Champion T-shirts. They are too tough and focused for any of the A.L. Central teams to catch them.

There’s only two teams in the A.L. West still in the hunt: the Texas Rangers and the Oakland A’s. As of Wednesday Night, they were tied for the division lead.

Since we are now looking ahead to October, which teams would you pick to make it into the playoffs? And the two teams to face off in the World Series?

In the American League it’s easy to put Boston and Detroit in the mix, but what about the West? The A’s and Rangers look evenly matched, but the A’s beat the Rangers last night, with Bartolo Colon pitching, by a score of 11-4 and won two of the three games in the series. Lucky for the Rangers, they will most likely be the A.L. Wild Card.

To represent the American League in the World Series we’re picking the Boston Red Sox. The fact is, they are the best team in the A.L. Detroit could upset the Sox in the American League Championship Series (ALCS), but they would have to win every game at home and beat the Sox in Boston. It wouldn’t be the first time the Sox choked in the playoffs.

For the National League I pick the Dodgers all the way. Not just because they are my team, but also because they are still the hottest team in baseball.  But the Cardinals could still surprise everyone. It’s a good bet they will be the Wild Card team, if they aren’t the N.L. Central champions.

If St. Louis does win the division, the Pirates will be the Wild Card.

The Dodgers’ rookie phenom, Yasiel Puig, has been in a little slump. Fans expect him to return to form before October. (Photo by Claudia Gestro)
The Dodgers’ rookie phenom, Yasiel Puig, has been in a little slump. Fans expect him to return to form before October.
(Photo by Claudia Gestro)

Many people think the Atlanta Braves are the team to beat in the National League, but that might be because people are tired of hearing about the Dodgers and Yasiel Puig.

Yes, we Dodgers fans believe our guys are going to the World Series and they will win it all, but it’s not all roses. Pitcher Clayton Kershaw (the best pitcher in the league) is a little sore and Puig has hit a slump, not to mention the big bats have left runners on base quite a lot.

In Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez all struck out in the late innings, two men on base each time. That, as much as the pitching, was a big reason the Rockies salvaged a win out of the three-game series at Coors Field in Denver. If the Dodgers do that against the Braves or the Cardinals, they will have a difficult time getting to the World Series.

Dodgers pitching though is pretty hot right now. Four of their starting pitchers, Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Ricky Nolasco and Hyun-Jin Ryu, are dominating games, although Kershaw had a tough outing this past Monday.

In their bullpen the Dodgers have four relievers who could be closers. So the pitching is what will carry the Dodgers to the World Series. But they need to put more runs on the boards and stop leaving men on base.

But, Dodgers fans shouldn’t complain. Four months ago no one even joked about the Dodgers being in this position. It’s no joke now, the Dodgers are still the hottest team in baseball!