The Los Angeles Dodgers had pulled away in the National League West long before they clinched their seventh straight division title last week, but they are still in the middle of a tight race for home-field advantage through the World Series.
Manager Dave Roberts has long insisted that the Dodgers did not need home-field advantage to stay motivated with the division virtually locked up. He reasoned the team’s focus on playing quality baseball superseded the actual pursuit of home-field.
Though the Dodgers have shown the ability to win on the road in October, aligning to have the majority of playoff games at home is an added benefit.
While the Dodgers will place a high priority on getting players healthy and providing regulars with rest over the next few weeks, Roberts did not not shy away from the goal of clinching home-field advantage, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Home-field (advantage) is huge,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “To try to obtain it at any cost, that’s a bigger discussion. But it’s at the forefront of all our minds to have home-field advantage, 100 percent.”
How far will the Dodgers go to secure that for the postseason? “Just short of all-in,” Roberts said, backing away from an aggressively-phrased question.
The only playoff series in which the Dodgers had home-field advantage and lost under Roberts was the 2017 World Series. Aside from that, they are 3-0 in such series.
At 96-54, L.A enters Sunday three games ahead of the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the NL, which would give them home-field advantage in a potential matchup in the NL Championship Series.
Things get much tighter in the race for home-field advantage in the World Series. The New York Yankees boast the best record in baseball, one game ahead of the Houston Astros and two up on the Dodgers.
The Yankees also hold any potential tiebreaker against the Dodgers after taking two of three at Dodger Stadium in late August.
If the Dodgers do finish the regular season with the NL’s best record, they will face the winner of the Wild Card Game. That’s currently slated to be a matchup between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
The Dodgers have plenty of recent playoff history against pretty much all of their likely NL postseason opponents.
They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013 and 2014, defeated the Braves in 2013 and 2018, and eliminated the Nationals in 2016. They lost to the Cubs in the 2016 NLCS but got revenge a year later.