Russell Martin: Dodgers ‘Want To Win’ Remaining Games But ‘Definitely Ready’ For Start Of Postseason

The Los Angeles Dodgers have avoided the pitfall that came on the 2017 club, which lost 16 of 17 late in the season en route to also clinching the National League West, but they also have not consistently played their best stretch of baseball recently.

With a seventh consecutive division title secured and likely the top seed in the NL playoffs, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has used the past few weeks as an evaluation period and opportunity to focus on getting players healthy.

Following Saturday’s loss to the Colorado Rockies, Roberts acknowledged there very much is a checklist he is processing through lineups and in-game decisions. “We’ve done some things differently,” said Russell Martin, echoing Roberts’ explanation.

“We’ve saved some pitch counts. We’ve had some bullpen days. We’ve had some guys go in some situations just to prepare for the postseason, making sure guys have been in situations coming out of the pen and stuff like that. So we have done things differently.”

Several players have pushed back against the growing perception of overlooking the remaining regular-season games. The Dodgers remain in the hunt for the best record in baseball, which currently belongs to the Houston Astros. The New York Yankees are slotted between the 2017 World Series opponents.

Meanwhile, across the NL are tight races in the Central and for the Wild Card Game. “You can’t fake that we have clinched and these games probably aren’t as important as, say, a St. Louis-Cubs game,” Martin noted.

“There isn’t that same feel, but you still play to win and everyone in here wants to win every single game. But we’re definitely ready to get going (in the postseason).”

The Dodgers are set to begin the playoffs by hosting Game 1 of the NL Division on Thursday, Oct. 3; Game 2 will be played at Dodger Stadium the following day. However, there isn’t much clarity beyond that.

L.A. currently is in position to face the Wild Card winner — which entering Sunday would be the Washington Nationals or Milwaukee Brewers. But they could wind up facing the NL Central leader (presently the St. Louis Cardinals) if the Atlanta Braves overtake the Dodgers in the standings.

It also remains mathematically possible for the Cardinals fall into the Wild Card Game. The Dodgers have scouts watching St. Louis for the remainder of the regular season, and presumably other clubs as well.