The Los Angeles Dodgers are tearing through the season in similar fashion to two years ago, when they boat-raced the National League West and held the best overall record for most, if not the entire year.
On Tuesday they became the second team in the Majors to reach 80 wins — doing so less than one hour after the New York Yankees accomplished as much by defeating the Baltimore Orioles. The Dodgers were first to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 wins this season.
With a seventh consecutive National League West title all but a formality at this point, much of the Dodgers’ focus has begun to shift to health and evaluating their pitching staff for a postseason starting rotation and bullpen.
As for finding times to rest players, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman noted there is a balancing act but he dismissed any concern over the team potentially losing its competitive spirit with such a large lead, via SportsNet LA:
“Obviously we don’t want our guys to lose their edge, and we want them to continue to go out and win games while balancing and maintaining the workload aspect of what they’re doing. We don’t have to red line it right now. But we want to do that in a way where guys don’t lose their edge, so it’s a balancing act that we’re kind of constantly going through on a daily basis.
“No matter what the game score is or how much we’re up in the standings, a lot of times throughout the year people have said, ‘Are you worried about guys losing their edge with the lead that you have?’ And I’ve said, ‘In some cases I would be, but not with this group and not with watching how they go about things on a daily basis. How competitive they are, the camaraderie among the group, how much they want each other to succeed, the sharing of information.’ It’s a really special group, that that’s not what I worry about.”
With the Minnesota Twins fading a bit, the Houston Astros, Dodgers and Yankees are jostling for the best overall record. L.A. held home-field advantage in the 2017 World Series but that went to the Boston Red Sox last year.
Of course, the Dodgers experienced first-hand that doesn’t guarantee anything, as they lost to the Astros in a Game 7 at Dodger Stadium.
Barring a bit of a collapse, the Dodgers should at minimum secure home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. That factor, along with the top overall record, is an aspect manager Dave Roberts and players have mentioned as helping keep the team focused for the remainder of the season.