Giants vs Dodgers Should Be…Wait. What? Who?
Baseball fans out west are all geeked up to see the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers play a best-of-five series to add yet another chapter to this storied rivalry. One problem though…
San Francisco Giants: look in the mirror and prepare to play your evil twin, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neck and neck in a host of statistical categories, with the obvious one being wins -Giants 107, Dodgers 106- these two squads have battled back and forth in a season that will go down as one of the Dodgers ‘ best…and the Giants’ best and most unlikely. This series will be amazing. This series will be fantastic. This series has 12 decades of history dating back to the…what’s that? Who? The wildcard game? The Dodgers have to beat St. Louis first? The Cardinals?
That’s right. The Giants/Dodgers series is not a certainty. In fact, it’s very much in doubt. This is the same St. Louis Cardinals club that is just come off a 17-game winning streak. It’s the same club that has added young Tyler O’Neil to the two-headed monster that was already Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. This is the same team with a rejuvenated Jon Lester and J.A. Happ, an improving Jake Woodford (2.51 ERA in his last six starts) and multiple-time Cy Young Award candidate Adam Wainwright to go against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles once again has no Clayton Kershaw (elbow) and now no Max Muncy, after Brewer Jace Peterson ran into first baseman Muncy’s outstretched arm in a collision in the final game of the season. Albert Pujols has done well as a pinch-hitter and platoon player, but is hitting just .154 in the last 15 games and but L.A. doesn’t want to rely on his defense at first. He may platoon with Cody Bellinger. Bellinger has had flashes of his old form in recent days after a horrific season offensively and a trip to the injured list. At times he was looking into his own dugout or had closed his eyes altogether while swinging. Recently, the head has been down and some balls have been going to the opposite field. Now would be a great time to get it together.
The Cardinals are interesting in that they had underperformed (according to our projections) for most of the season and needed that winning streak to make up for a sub par 2021 campaign. Now, they’re hot and starting pitching is getting them deep into ball games. They could very well be the latest wildcard team with 90 wins to knock off a team with more than 100. There’s nothing wrong with winning 90 games. That’s a solid season, maybe even very good. But it’s not 100. End it certainly isn’t 106. That is rarefied air usually only inhabited by dolphin unicorns and rainbow ponies, like the San Francisco Giants.
Fun fact: 10 of the 17 teams with 107 or more wins in a season won the World Series. Twelve of the 22 teams that won more than 106 games won it all. The 2019 Dodgers and 1998 Atlanta Braves are among those teams that did not win it all.
So, it’s not set in stone. The Cardinals do have a chance. That’s the way the system works. The Giants are part of the reason the wildcard even exists after they won 103 games in 1993 and finished second, missing the playoffs.
That all said, the Dodgers should win this. They have Max Scherzer, and if he can’t go, Walker Buehler, and if he can’t go Julio Urias, who are all better than anyone St. Louis wants to put on the mound. Sure, Tyler O’Neil was first in all of Major League Baseball in runs, home runs, slugging and total bases in the last month and Goldschmidt and Arenado can hurt you. But the Dodgers have the best pitching staff even without Kershaw and the likes of Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock can carry the load. The loss of Muncy hurts a lot, but those two guys who will be playing first can hurt you too.
Prediction: Dodgers win 5-4.