The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched an unprecedented seventh consecutive National League West title at one of the earliest points in franchise history, and with it, were left with ample time to prepare for what they hope is another deep postseason run.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers have already clinched home-field advantage for the NL Division Series and boast a 4.5 game-lead over the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the league. L.A. trails the Houston Astros by only two games for the top mark in all of baseball.
As the calendar inches closer to October and playoff seeds begin to sort out, the Dodgers will soon have a better idea of who they will be hosting in Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium.
They are currently slated to face the winner of the NL Wild Card Game, which takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 1. How the race sorts out from now until then is anyone’s guess.
The Washington Nationals currently hold the top Wild Card spot and boast a slim one-game lead over the No. 2 Milwaukee Brewers. Right behind them are the Chicago Cubs, who trail their NL Central rival by only one game.
Making matters more interesting is the tight NL Central race that could ultimately determine who the Dodgers play. The St. Louis Cardinals, at 86-67, hold a three-game advantage over the second-place Brewers, and assuming they maintain that lead, will play the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs.
The Cardinals, however, play the Cubs in six of their nine remaining regular season games. A late-season slump could ultimately have them leapfrogged in the standings, and thus, bumped down to the Wild Card Game.
The Dodgers, keeping this possibility in mind, have sent three advanced scouts to monitor the Cardinals ahead of potentially meeting in October, according to Mark Saxon of The Athletic:
The Dodgers have three advance scouts on the #STLCards for the remainder of the season in anticipation of a playoff matchup to come…
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) September 20, 2019
The Dodgers and Cardinals are certainly no stranger to postseason matchups, as the two teams have faced off in October twice this decade (2013-14). St. Louis was victorious on both occasions, and overall, have defeated L.A. in five out of six playoff meetings since 1946.
The Dodgers went 3-4 against the Cardinals during the regular season, first losing four consecutive games at Busch Stadium in April before turning the tables and sweeping them in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium four months later.
In the wake of being swept, Cardinals right-hander and Burbank, Calif., native Jack Flaherty deemed the Dodgers the best team in baseball and anticipated returning to Dodger Stadium in October.