Baseball has a notoriously long season, so it’s easy for people to get tired of the regular season and start wanting to call things before even the first month of the season is over. We’re on the verge of getting to the last month of the season and before Monday’s set of NL West games this is what the standings look like, courtesy of MLB.com:
So there’s 34 games left, and now the elimination numbers will become a talking point for the sillyheads because if you’ll notice, the Giants need a combination of 33 Giants wins and Dodger losses over the course of the next 34 games to clinch a spot in the playoffs. That’s a stupid high number to start counting, so if you love “E#,” may I suggest you be concerned more about “GB” for the next three weeks, at the very least.
Anna (@SFBleacherGirl) created a great chart to educate the good people of the world about the remaining schedule of both the Giants, the Dodgers, and even listed their probables. This is great work, so take a gander at this:
You will notice Billingsley is not in there, and we don’t know yet how he’ll be able to contribute to the Dodger run, and these probables are certainly subject to change. Going by the stretches, here’s what I think:
Aug 27-Sep 12: The schedules aren’t all super different, but the Giants will have a bigger margin for error with their opponents than the Dodgers. I think the Dodgers will go 8-7 in that stretch, and the Giants will go 9-6. The Giants gain a game.
Sep 13-Sep 24: While the Giants are busy playing the NL West, the Dodgers will get to face playoff hopefuls in the Cardinals, Nationals, and Reds. This is the most important stretch where the two teams do not play each other. I think the Dodgers will go 5-5 in these 10 tough games, and the Giants will go 6-4, because they’re the Giants. They gain another game, up 4 games on the Dodgers with 10 games to go.
Sep 25-Oct 3: The Dodgers certainly have the easier schedule as the two race toward Game 162, and the amount of home/away games are opposites for the California rivals (3/6 for SF, 6/3 for LA). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dodgers go 4-2 in the first 6, and the Giants go 3-3, meaning the Giants would be up 3 games going into the last series of the season. I believe the Giants clinch this division by Game 161, and will do so in Los Angeles.
Something I think could happen is in the games beginning September 25th, Cain and Zito might switch spots. Imagine if you’re the Dodgers and your path to the playoffs has to go through Cain, Vogelsong, and Bumgarner? Yea, no thanks.
Could my predictions be wrong? Of course. Is this race over? On the contrary: this is the part where you start losing your hair, you say things you don’t mean to loved ones, and your household pets start hiding from you. So get ready, write those “I’m sorry” notes early, and most importantly, save up that money, just in case the need for celebration happens in October.