Giants @ Dodgers – September 22, 2023: The Magic Number to clinch a bye is down to 2

Just two days ago, it seemed the Dodgers had a fleeting chance of catching the Braves for the top spot in the National League. With each team going 1-1 in the two days since, Atlanta still holds a 3.5-game lead on Los Angeles with nine games remaining. With 10 games left, the Dodgers would need to go 10-0 if the Braves manage to win 5 of their final 9 considering the season series favors Atlanta 4-3.

More importantly now, and pretty much inevitable, is as the title says. Los Angeles is just two games away from clinching the No. 2 seed in the National League playoffs and moving directly to the National League Division Series. The Brewers are facing the Marlins today for the first game of a three-game series between the teams in Miami. By the time this publishes, that game with a 3:40 p.m. PT start time may be over and a win tonight for the Dodgers might officially clinch anything that is actually possible in the regular season.

On the opposing side, the Giants have fallen to three games back of the third and final Wild Card berth in the National League which has amazingly put them just one game ahead of the Padres following San Diego’s seven-game win streak that has been aided by playing the Athletics (the league’s worst team by five games) and the Rockies (the league’s third-worst team and worst team in the NL). Of course, the Padres do still play the Cardinals and White Sox for a combined six games as well as three against the Giants, so the schedule does not really get any tougher.

Considering Cincinnati has eight games left against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis, with the Marlins playing the Brewers, Mets and Pirates and the Cubs playing the Rockies, Braves and Brewers, the Giants’ playoff odds have fallen to 0.9% and now barely edge the Padres’ 0.6%.

Image Image
7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
DH Slater RF Betts
2B Estrada 1B Freeman (L)
1B Flores C Smith
RF Yastrzemski (L) DH Martinez
LF Haniger 2B Rosario
3B Davis LF Taylor
C Bailey (S) 3B Hernandez
SS Luciano CF Outman (L)
CF Fitzgerald SS Rojas
P Manaea (L) P Ferguson (L)

Facing the left-handed Sean Manaea, which just seems cruel of the Giants to do (more on that below), the Dodgers are sending out Amed Rosario, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor with David Peralta, Jason Heyward on the bench as expected in addition to Max Muncy. It looks like five different Dodgers have a career OPS of at least 1.000 against Manaea, though that does include James Outman and his handful of at-bats, while Taylor is also above .900.

With Caleb Ferguson opening and Ryan Yarbrough probably following, the Giants have just one lefty and one switch hitter in the lineup.


Once again, Manaea is forced to face the Dodgers. Though he’s been much better against Los Angeles in 2023, holding a 9.82 ERA in 3 2/3 innings, I use the term “much better” in reference to a 9.82 ERA as he held an 11.72 ERA in 17 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in 2022. For his career, he’s allowed a 9.00 ERA in 35 innings against Los Angeles which only trails a 16.88 ERA in 5 1/3 innings against the Orioles and is ahead of his 7.36 ERA in 33 innings against the Red Sox.

I believe I was on the recap for two of these starts, but here’s a game log from Manaea’s five regular season games against the Dodgers in 2022:

April 244 1/3676532
Aug. 541088710
Sept. 34 1/3988413
Sept. 101000200
Sept. 294211300

Adding in his one game against the Dodgers in 2023, Manaea allowed four runs on four hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings. He did strike out six without allowing a home run and the Giants ultimately won the game in extra innings as the Dodgers blew Sheehan’s 6 no-hit innings to open the game.

Those five home runs hit by the Dodgers last season against Manaea came from Freddie Freeman, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Justin Turner. Betts and Bellinger also had doubles, as did Hanser Alberto, Chris Taylor and Will Smith. Betts even added a triple to the Dodgers’ assortment of extra-base hits against Manara last year. Back in June, J.D. Martinez drove in one with a double and James Outman followed with a two-run single.

Manaea has continued to rely on a four-seamer as his primary pitch, a switch he made last season with the Padres after primarily leaning on a sinker while with the Athletics. Throwing the fastball 51.5% of the time last season, that’s up to 56.9% in 2023 while averaging 93.6 mph. That’s a jump up from the 91.3 mph in 2022 and is backed by an even mix of changes, sliders and sweepers.

Right-handed batters see 20.5% change-ups after the fastball, with the slider at 13.3% and the sweeper at 8.9%. For lefties, the slider is at 17.1% and the sweeper 15.8% with the change at 6.7%. While the sweeper is new, Manaea’s change and slider picked up about 2 mph from last season like the fastball. The change’s break has mostly remained the same, but the slider decreased by about two inches in vertical movement and nearly two inches horizontally.

None of the three returning primary pitches has a xwOBA under .332, but the sweeper is at .221 with a 35.1 Whiff%, easily the highest of his four most common pitches.

Manaea’s splits for 2023, which are listed below look pretty similar to his career overall. He’s been a little stronger against lefties than in the past and a bit worse against righties, but overall the only real difference is an increase in strikeouts and walks across the board.

vs. LHHvs. RHH
Batters Faced162290

The sweeper might be the key reason for the improvement against lefties with its .108 wOBA/.135 xwOBA compared to a .287/.297 against righties.


As for the Dodgers’ pitching tonight, that apparently could be more than just Yarbrough behind Ferguson.

In his 31 innings with the Dodgers across nine games with one start, Yarbrough holds a 2.90 ERA and a 3.42 FIP. Gavin Stone’s 26 2/3 innings include seven games with four starts and a much higher 9.45 ERA and a 6.37 FIP.

From there, the final nine games are starting to seem pretty clear. With Clayton Kershaw lined up for Saturday and Lance Lynn for Sunday, Bobby Miller will presumably get a start in one of the two games in Colorado on Tuesday. Ryan Pepiot probably factors in to Tuesday or Wednesday, though the Dodgers will have an extra roster spot for the doubleheader if they wanted to get creative against the Rockies. With the Dodgers planning to start Kershaw on the final Saturday, that leaves Thursday Sept. 29, Friday Sept. 30 and the season finale on Sunday Oct. 1 as the last few pieces with Lynn, Miller and Emmett Sheehan all in the mix in addition to Yarbrough, Stone and Pepiot all getting some work in before the playoffs.

The madness of this “rotation” over this final month is just about complete and I can’t believe Lance Lynn’s presumptive 11 starts may finish tied for seventh on the team this season and just one behind Michael Grove and Noah Syndergaard for fifth overall.


Speaking of Grove:


First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT on Apple TV+, which should make everyone so excited.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.