The Los Angeles Dodgers have been among the favorites to win the 2014 World Series since the season first started and they currently sit at 4/1 odds to win it all. And with the way they’ve been playing since the All Star break; it’s becoming easier to see why. The Dodgers won their fourth game in a row on Tuesday night, roaring back with a three-run 7th and held off the Atlanta Braves in the final innings of the game.
Before the Dodgers started their series with the Braves, they swept San Francisco. At the time, the Giants were leading the NL West, though they’ve now lost six games in a row and find themselves 2.5 games behind Los Angeles.
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball and their key players are finally starting to come through in effective and efficient ways. They are in the top-ten for all offensive categories in MLB, including ninth in runs, eighth in batting average, sixth in OBP, and tenth in slugging percentage.
The star-studded lineup includes Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Dee Gordon. Puig leads the team in batting average and OPS, Gonzalez is the leader for home runs and RBIs, and Gordon has the most runs on the team.
On Tuesday night it was Matt Kemp who was the hero from the plate. Kemp went yard twice, hitting a two-run shot in the second to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead, and then again in the seventh to put them back on top at 7-4. Gonzalez also had two RBIs on the evening, bringing his season total to 70.
While most teams in the league have either an offensive lineup that gives opposing pitchers nightmares or their own pitching staff that shuts down the other teams batters, the Dodgers give their opponents little relief on either end. Much like their offense, their pitching also ranks in the top-ten in all statistical categories. Their 3.35 ERA is sixth best in the league, they have the third-best number of quality starts with 67, and their WHIP and BAA are both eighth in the league among pitchers.
The four aces that the Dodgers rely on are Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Josh Beckett. Greinke, who started the current four-game streak for the Dodgers, has a 12-6 record, while Kershaw also has 12 wins. Ryu isn’t too far behind with 11 wins of his own. Kershaw also leads the league with a 1.76 ERA, and Beckett and Greinke are 16th and 17th, respectively, as both have a 2.74 ERA.
On Tuesday night, Beckett got the start, though he only pitched through the first out in the fourth inning. On the night Beckett gave up 9 hits and 4 runs, before being replaced by Brandon League. League would only pitch for one inning, but he got his second win of the season as the Dodgers made a comeback in the bottom of the 7th.
The Dodgers currently have an 83% chance of making the playoffs. Luckily for them, that number continues to grow because they are in one of the weakest divisions in baseball. The Dodgers and the Giants are the only teams in the NL West above .500, although the Giants won’t be able to make the same claim if they keep losing like they have been this week.
After the Dodgers finish up their series with Atlanta they’ll welcome the Cubs to town. And while we don’t expect Chicago to give them too much trouble, we are certainly looking forward to the matchup that the Dodgers will play immediately after. Starting on August 4th, the Dodgers will play a four-game stretch against the Angels in a battle for LA. You can check back with sportspicks.com handicappers before these games for insight into the series. The Angles are currently in their own battle in the AL West, so those games will be equally as important to them as the Dodgers.
If the Dodgers can keep up the success they’ve had as late, they’ll certainly be trouble for any team that they go up against in the final months of the season.