On July 10, the San Francisco Giants were 57-33, the best record in the MLB, holding a 6.5 game lead over the LA Dodgers.
Less than two weeks before that, the Dodgers had placed their ace, AKA the best pitcher on the planet, on the disabled list. Without Clayton Kershaw, who was transferred to the 60-day DL on August 2, and with how well the Giants had been playing, it was looking like it was going to be Wild Card or bust for the Dodgers. I mean, that’s not even being a Negative Nancy, either. At the time that Kershaw went down, the Dodgers were 14-2 in games that he started, and 27-34 when he didn’t. That’s plenty of reason to be alarmed about his injury, and the impact that losing him for a significant amount of time would have on the Dodgers’ playoff hopes.
Well, since Kershaw went down, the Dodgers are 28-19, the fifth best record in the MLB, while the Giants have done the exact opposite, going 19-28, the 28th worst record in the MLB during that stretch. That obviously begs the question of, how the fuck did the Dodgers do that without Kershaw? The answer to that question is that several guys have stepped up, and none of them have been starting pitchers. In Kershaw’s absence, Dodgers starters have an ERA of 5.12, which ranks as the 24th worst in the MLB over that span.
That can only mean one thing — the Dodgers offense stepped up. First and foremost, Corey Seager is a monster. Since Kershaw went down, he’s hitting .359 with a .967 OPS, while Adrian Gonzalez, who homered three times yesterday, has been just as good, if not a little bit better, hitting .356 with a 1.012 OPS. The Dodgers actually have five players with an OPS over .900 in the 47 games since Kershaw last made a start — the aforementioned Gonzalez and Seager, Joc Pederson (.910), Justin Turner (.972), and Yasmani Grandal, who has been leading the way with a 1.082 OPS.
The Dodgers aren’t thinking Wild Card anymore. They’re a game up on the Giants, and Kershaw said that he felt “100 percent” after throwing a bullpen this past weekend. That’s bad news for San Francisco. Kershaw isn’t eligible to come off the 60-day DL until this Saturday, but he’ll obviously need a couple of starts in the minors before he’s truly ready to return. There, he’ll be reunited with Yasiel Puig, who nobody wants to trade for, apparently. That’ll be fun.
Game one of a three-game series against the Giants starts tonight at Dodger Stadium, and it’s a doozy — Madison Bumgarner versus Kenta Maeda.