Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

NL playoff possibilities a jumble-aya

With the Dodgers sporting what I would call a muscular 11 1/2-game lead in the National League West (and a magic number of 16 with 26 games to play) after their second consecutive 2-1 victory over San Diego, I’m finding it nearly impossible not to speculate about potential postseason matchups.

Even if all three teams from the National League Central make the playoffs as a division champion and the two wild cards, there could be an extra playoff game that might delay Los Angeles, if it goes on to win the division, learning who its first postseason opponent is.

Based on MLB rules changes that came in with the creation of the second wild-card spot in each league, if two teams tie for first place in the NL Central, they would have a playoff game to determine the division champ and first wild card. Presumably, that game would take place Monday, September 30, the day after the regular season ends. (If it’s between Pittsburgh and St. Louis, the Pirates would host that game, based on having won the season series with the Cardinals.)

The loser of that divisional playoff game – or without such a game, the top wild-card finisher, would host the second wild-card team in the one-game showdown on Tuesday, October 1.

The winner of the wild-card game will then travel to the home of the team with the best record in the league for a best-of-five NL Division Series that would probably begin on Thursday, October 3. Unlike last year, the division series will be in a 2-2-1 format.

The NL Division Series between the division champs that don’t have the best record in the league would probably begin on Wednesday, October 2.

The Dodgers currently hold the No. 2 spot in the NL. Though they have closed within two games of Atlanta, they actually need to make up three games to pass them, because head-to-head records will serve as tiebreakers for playoff seeding. Here’s how the Dodgers have fared against their fellow playoff contenders this year:

Arizona: 5-7 with seven games to play
Atlanta: 2-5
Cincinnati: 3-1 with three games to play
Pittsburgh: 4-2
St. Louis: 4-3
Washington: 5-1

If all three contenders in the NL Central finish the regular season tied, with the division champion and two wild-card slots at their disposal, that’s when it gets really interesting. Head-to-head records would be used to determine placement of the three clubs, and then there would be two playoff games.

The loser of the first game would be a wild-card team. The winner of the first game would play the remaining contender from the division in the second game. The winner of the second game would be the division champion, while the loser of the second game would be the other wild card.

For more insight, you can look at last year’s MLB postseason tiebreaker guide.



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  1. KT

    Another Fine Dodger Day…Time to take this show on the road again where we are the best…Have a great night and I’ll read all of you later…Night All

  2. KT

    Great break down Jon

  3. ASW1

    Just my opinion, but I believe just because Young speaks Spanish doesn’t mean Puig’s going to automatically soak up all his supposed “baseball wisdom” – I remember when I was 22 – Puig strikes me as one who would listen (key word listen and not just hear) and learn much more from Uribe, Hanley, and even though he doesn’t speak the same language, Ryu (Ryu is 26 but seems to have a fun carefree attitude in the dugout, like Puig).

    These guys have built a great camaraderie and chemistry over a winning season – I don’t see Young coming in with the division wrapped up and suddenly being the all-knowing yoda to Puig – but whatever, as long Young performs well off the bench, I’m sure the team will welcome him with open arms.

  4. KT

    Jon your twitter linked it to the last article…just to let you know

  5. Hey Jon, I caught an error in your article. You said, “Here’s how the Dodgers have fared against their fellow playoff contenders this year:” and then went on to list Arizona.

    Ok I’m being a bit facetious :)

    • btimmer

      Even if the DBacks won all of their remaining 27 games, they would not be guaranteed of making the playoffs.
      None of the teams in the NL except for the 5 already in playoff position can claim that. And none of them need to win as many games as they have left.

  6. WBBsAs

    By the way, Jon, when I questioned Justin Morneau the other day I had no intention of dismissing him. While he may never again be what he was in his prime, he’s certainly a better acquisition than Michael Young.

  7. WinnipegDave

    Reading your list of possible playoff contenders reminds me of the list I was looking at yesterday at BR. Dodgers will face 20 teams this year and it is possible that they could have a winning record against 17 of them. The only ones they will definitely finish below .500 against are all potential playoff teams: Atlanta (2-5), Boston (1-2), and Baltimore (1-2). They currently also have a losing record against Ari (5-7) and Col (6-7), but could still end up winning records.

  8. WinnipegDave

    I see that in the NL there is a 7.5 game spread from the team in 1st and the team in 5th. In the AL, there is a 5.5 game spread. Imagine the fun if all 5 end up with the same record. Of course it could be slightly less crazy, I suppose, because the top 5 include no more than 2 from each division.

  9. ASW1

    Matt Kemp has played in 4 games for Class-A RC – he’s 0 fer 14 with 7 strikeouts.


    • WinnipegDave

      That must be one frustrated Bison.

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      It almost seems unthinkable/blasphemous . . . but is it possible he doesn’t make a postseason roster?

      • ASW1

        Anything’s possible but as long as he stays healthy I’m sure his timing / hitting will eventually come around – he’s been away from live pitching for a long time – he just needs AB’s.

        • Bob_in_Vegas

          Again, a good reason to wrap up the West quickly . . . let him play and gain that timing regardless of his productivity.

  10. Dodger starting pitching so strong that one of their better relievers, J.P. Howell, hasn’t pitched in eight days and has faced two batters since 8/20.

  11. Benzojones

    Theoretically the Giants still have a chance. Don’t they?

    • ASW1

      Yes they do – the magic number to eliminate the Gnats is 7.

    • btimmer

      Everybody in the majors has a chance right now except for Houston. Even Miami has a chance, although that could disappear today.

  12. ASW1

    Wainwright has already given up 5 earned in only 3 innings against the Redlegs.

  13. KT

    Dodgers lineup:
    Crawford LF
    Puig RF
    Gonzalez 1B
    Ramirez SS
    Ethier CF
    M Ellis 2B
    A Ellis C
    Uribe 3B
    Kershaw P

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