Dodgers @ Giants September 28, 2018: The Dodgers don’t want to leave their heart and season in San Francisco

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers (88-71) will attempt to do something they haven’t done since 2014, sweep the Giants (73-86) in a three-game series at AT&T Park.

Should they win out the rest of their season, and the Rockies (89-70) fumble against the Nationals (81-78) this weekend, there’s still a chance the Dodgers can clinch the NL West. The odds are slim, considering the fact that Colorado has won seven straight and all of a sudden look like they’re unstoppable or something. The Dodgers, on the other hand, scuffled and lost two of three to the already eliminated Diamondbacks (81-78) and fell back into second place with three games to go.

Now they have their backs against the wall and will need to prevent their biggest rival, the Giants, from adding more pain to the narrative between the two storied franchises. It’s a history that already includes unforgettable and heartbreaking postseason elimination moments for the Dodgers at the hands of the Giants.

Dodgers
Giants
7:15 PM
San Francisco
RF
Hernandez
RF
Pence
3B
Turner
2B
Panik
1B
Freese
3B
Longoria
SS
Machado
C
Hundley
LF
Kemp
SS
Crawford
CF
Taylor
1B
Garcia
C
Grandal LF Slater
2B
Dozier
CF
Hernandez
P
Ryu (L)
P
Bumgarner (L)

I will also do something I haven’t done in a long time, write about the Dodgers on the brink of losing the division. It’s unfamiliar territory, and it really goes to show you how spoiled we’ve been over the last five seasons. After all, the Rockies have never won a NL West division title, and the Dodgers have had the pleasure of pouring champagne over each other’s goggled faces for five straight seasons after clinching the division. Losing the division at the very end would be extremely painful. The pain is also cumulative since it hasn’t even been a full year since they lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to the Astros.

Losing the division and watching the Rockies clinch would be hard to stomach, but the Dodgers wouldn’t necessarily be completely done. They’re now 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals (87-73) for the second NL Wild Card coming into tonight’s contest. Wild Card winners have gone on to win it all before. It would just be a very stressful route to get back there.

Of course, the Dodgers could also end up tied with the Rockies or the Cardinals by the end of the weekend. Just thinking about all the scenarios has me like:

The Dodgers could be eliminated from the postseason entirely. They’re already 2-4 at AT&T Park this season, and they’ve historically had trouble in the lion’s den with an overall record below .500. It’s possible they could miss out on October baseball altogether, but they would have to be swept by the Giants, and the Cardinals would need to win at least two of three from the Cubs. The Cardinals lost 8-4 to the Cubs earlier today at a rainy Wrigley Field, so the Dodgers need only one win against the Giants to guarantee that they will at the very least play a tiebreaker Monday. The Rockies would clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight.

The Dodgers could still win the NL West. If the Dodgers sweep the Giants, then the Nats would need to win one game at Coors this weekend to force a one-game playoff at Dodger Stadium on Monday night to decide the NL West division. If the Nationals can win two games or more, and the Dodgers sweep, then LA wins the division. If the Dodgers win only one game against San Francisco, then they would need the Nationals to sweep the Rockies in order to force the playoff for the division on Monday at Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers could win the 2nd NL Wild Card. The Dodgers begin their weekend 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the NL. This looks like the most likely path to the postseason for LA. Now that the Cards lost the series opener against the Cubs, the Dodgers need to win two vs. ‘Frisco and they’re guaranteed a spot in the Wild Card game. If the Dodgers sweep the Giants this weekend, then no matter what happens with the Rockies, they will be guaranteed at least the second Wild Card spot and a postseason berth. If they only win one game against the Giants, then they would need the Cards to also only win one game against the Cubs in order to capture the second Wild Card.

The Dodgers could tie the Rockies or Cardinals, or both. Chaos ensues.

——

Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3, 2.00 ERA, 2.82 FIP) is potentially could be making his final start with the Dodgers. He’s come back with a vengeance in his final year of his 6-year, $36 million contract with LA, working his way back after major shoulder surgery.

Overall, Ryu’s 4-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 career starts against the Giants. He’s been much better at home (1.15 ERA in 54.2 IP) than on the road (4.15 ERA in 21.2 IP) this year. At AT&T Park, he’s 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in career 8 starts. Hunter Pence has tormented Ryu and is 13-for-31 (.419) against him with two doubles.

Madison Bumgarner (6-6, 3.20 ERA, 4.00 FIP) has a long and tumultuous history with the Dodgers over his career. The Giants have nothing really more to play for than to spoil things for the Dodgers, and Bumgarner would be the logical choice to lead that brigade.

MadBum already commented on his goals for the series with San Francisco media, and to no one’s surprise he wants to eliminate his foes from the postseason.

“If we’re not going, I don’t care who goes. I feel like we should be there, and could be there, and we’re not. I am going to do everything I can do to keep them from going only because I’m pitching. I don’t care about them or any other team in the division. I only care about us.”

Bumgarner’s 15-10 with a 2.61 ERA in 31 career games vs. LA. He’ll have to be wary of leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez, who infamously owns MadBum (16-for-36 with four home runs). It’s wonderful.

Both Ryu (.292) and Bumgarner (.167) are #pitcherswhorake. MadBum has had a bit of a down year at the plate with no homers on the season. Ryu’s coming off a three-hit game in his last start against the Padres.

——

One may argue that a significant reason the Dodgers are playing from behind is because they’ve struggled against left-handed pitching (.237/.322/.408/.730) while the Rockies have been the best in the NL vs. southpaws (.271/.335/.458/.793). The Dodgers will face two lefties in MadBum and Andrew Suarez this series.

That said, Eric Stephen pointed out that the Dodgers have actually been one of the top offensive teams in the majors since August 1 against both RHP and LHP.

They’ve also found a way to win against lefties.

Now’s the time to find a way to win, period.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.