In 2017, the Los Angeles Dodgers built up such a big lead in the division that by this time it was already a foregone conclusion that they were going to win the National League West, leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies to compete in the Wild Card game.
The 2018 season has been much different though as the Dodgers have struggled, particularly over the last couple weeks, and fallen as far as 4.5 games back of first place in the division.
A pair of wins over the San Diego Padres for the Dodgers, coupled with losses by the Diamondbacks over the weekend, cut their deficit to 2.5 games behind both Arizona and Colorado, who are tied for the NL West lead entering play Sunday.
After Saturday night’s walk-off win over the Padres, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted that he and his team are keeping a keen eye on the scoreboard, via Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
“To say we’re not watching the scoreboard?” Roberts said. “We all are.”
Roberts and several players previously declined the club was doing as much, but with the regular season winding down, it’s certainly understandable circumstances would have changed.
The Dodgers still face the Diamondbacks seven more times and the Rockies six more times in the regular season, so they have plenty of opportunities to potentially overtake both clubs in the NL West. However, Roberts recently cautioned his team to not look ahead to those matchups and instead focusing on whatever opponent is in front of them in the present.
Nonetheless, the Dodgers did switch around their rotation, moving Hyun-Jin Ryu up to start Sunday’s series finale against the Padres so that they could line up their best pitchers for this weekend’s four-game series against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.