The Dodgers enter the final series of the regular season in the lion’s den against their hated rivals the San Francisco Giants. The Giants long since eliminated from the postseason will be looking to play spoiler. The Dodgers will be playing for their collective lives as they enter the weekend currently one game behind Colorado for the NL West and only a full game ahead of the Cardinals for the second wild card. There are a ton of different tiebreaker scenarios, and possible outcomes. I’ll go over those in a minute. However every inning, every pitch, every decision is crucial and could make or break the Dodger’s 2018 season. Pay attention Dave.
Standing in the Dodger’s way in the series opener on Friday evening will be long-time Dodger nemesis Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers will give the ball to Hyun-jin Ryu to counter. According to reports Bumgarner requested to pitch in this final series, and while the Giants are terrible, you best believe they will be pumped to try and knock out the Dodgers.
The important thing to remember is that the Giants are terrible. Make no mistake about that. The San Francisco club is 73-86 fourth place in the NL West. They’re 16 games behind Colorado and have lost 7 of their last 10 contests. The Giants are horrendous on the road, but actually have played decent (42-36) at At&t Park. They recently lost a franchise record eleven consecutive games to plummet out of contention. They don’t have Buster Posey, who is out for the rest of the season. They don’t have Brandon Belt available either.
Bumgarner has faced the Dodgers twice in 2018. He’s 1-1 over those two starts. The Dodgers beat him back on June 16 at Dodger Stadium and then he beat the Dodgers on August 13. He’s been limited to just 123 innings pitched this season and has a 6-6 record with a 3.20 ERA. He’s struck out 103 and walked 42. He’s allowed 13 home runs and 8.1 hits per nine innings. Over 31 career starts against the Dodgers Bumgarner is 15-10 with a 2.61 ERA.
The current Dodgers have slugged 16 home runs against Bumgarner and knocked in 33 runs over 362 plate appearances. Enrique Hernandez is hitting .444 (16 for 36) with four home runs and five doubles versus Bumgarner. Expect to see him in the lineup. David Freese is 7 for 15 with 2 home runs against Bumgarner.
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Ryu is making his fifteenth start of the season. He’s 6-3 with a 2.00 ERA across 76.1 innings pitched. Ryu has struck out 86 and walked only 13 while allowing only 7.5 hits per nine innings. He’s struck out 10.1 per nine and given up just eight home runs. Ryu has been fantastic. In 14 career starts against the Giants he is 4-6 with a 3.09 ERA. In 8 career starts at At&t Park he is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA. Ryu has faced the Giants twice this year as well, beating them on August 15, tossing six shutout innings. He also lost to the Giants back on April 27. Honestly he doesn’t give up much this season. The current Giants are hitting.277 with a .696 OPS against Ryu. They’ve hit only two home runs (Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria) and have 28 strikeouts against 7 walks. The lone Giant to have any kind of sustained success against Ryu is old and weird Hunter Pence. The veteran outfielder is hitting .419 (13 for 31) with seven runs batted in.
Ryu vs. Giants
Here are the scenarios for the postseason that involve the Dodgers.
Obviously the best case scenario is the Dodgers winning the NL West. Right now they are one game back and the earliest they could clinch would be Sunday, the last day of the regular season. They would need some help from the Nationals in order to do it, but it’s still in play. Any combination of three Colorado wins, or Dodger losses, and the Rockies win the NL West.
Tiebreaker- The Dodgers hold home field advantage for a potential tiebreaker with Colorado for the NL West based on their season series win over the Rockies. If that happens the game would be played Monday at Dodger Stadium.
If the Dodgers don’t win the NL West, they could still make it in as a Wild Card. Currently the boys in blue hold a one game lead over the Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the National League. I guess you could say their magic number to clinch a wild card berth is three. So any combination of Cardinal losses or Dodger wins amounting to three gets the Dodgers in.
Tiebreaker- unfortunately if there is a tiebreaker for the second wild card spot between the Dodgers and Cardinals, it would be played in St. Louis on Monday night. Remember that pathetic shutout loss against Adam Wainwright on Sunday night baseball? That win clinched the season series for the Cardinals 4-3 over the Dodgers and secured home field for a potential tiebreaker.
There s still a chance however unlikely that the Dodgers, Rockies and Cardinals all finish tied at the end of the regular season. If that happens the Dodgers would play a tiebreaker against Colorado at Dodger Stadium for the NL West title. The winner of that game would move onto the NLDS. The loser would play the Cardinals in St. Louis in a tiebreaker for the second wild card spot. It’s entirely insane, yet possible that the Dodgers would play three one-game playoffs (including the actual wild card game) in order to advance to the NLDS.
The absolute worst case scenario is the Dodgers not making it in at all. That would mean Colorado winning the NL West and the Cardinals taking the second wild card. If that were to happen then the Cardinals would likely play either the Brewers or the Cubs in the Wild Card game. The Cubs currently hold a one game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central.
My guess is the Dodgers make it in as a wild card taking two out of three over the Giants this weekend. They still have a shot at the NL West, but I think they would need to sweep to make that happen and get some help from the Nationals. The Rockies play the Nationals in Denver over the weekend in their final regular season series. Even though the Giants suck, the Dodgers can’t take anything for granted in this series. They have to win and taking two of three is a must. Somehow, someway the baseball gods have to help get the Dodgers back to Los Angeles for the NLDS next week. I personally don’t care how that happens, whether that’s via a tiebreaker, the wild card, or just winning the division outright. Please take care of this Dodgers.