The NL West still goes through the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In a season in which they faced more questions than ever about their status as MLB’s most consistent team, the Dodgers put the finishing touches on their 10th division title in 11 years with a 6-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners in extra innings.
The Dodgers and Mariners both went scoreless in the first nine innings, then recorded just a runner and a bogey runner in the 10th. The Dodgers regained the lead in the 11th with a Max Muncy single, then opened the game with a two-run single by Chris Taylor.
Kiké Hernández followed with another two-run single to put the game completely out of reach for Seattle.
The win improved the Dodgers’ record to 90-57, 13.5 games ahead of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Atlanta Braves, who have already clinched the NL East, loom six games back of first place in the NL, and a bye to the wild card that comes with it.
The only year the Dodgers didn’t win the division since 2013 was 2021, when their 106 wins weren’t enough to top the San Francisco Giants.
Early in the Dodgers’ division win, they spent most of the season in a dogfight with the D-backs. Arizona led the division going into the All-Star break, but a 5-19 stretch after that saw them slip in the standings. The Dodgers held serve, rising by double digits in the standings by August 16.
The Dodgers clearly have a lot of work to do. Winning 10 titles in 11 years is impressive; Winning one world championship in that period is even less. Every player on the team will be aware of this. But considering what the Dodgers have dealt with this season, coming away with a division title is still impressive.
The Dodgers weren’t the automatic pick for the NL West this season, but they still finished
It hasn’t been an easy season for the Dodgers, especially when it comes to the rotation.
The team lost starting shortstop Gavin Lux, their replacement Trea Turner, to a torn ACL in spring training. Neither Walker Buehler (Tommy John surgery) nor Blake Treinen (shoulder) has pitched a role this season. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May both underwent season-ending surgeries, while free agent Noah Syndergaard posted a 7.16 ERA in an Dodger uniform. The less said about Julio Urias, the better at this stage.
How did the Dodgers make up for all those losses and disappointments? Well, MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman were off to a good start, as were strong campaigns from Will Smith, Max Muncy and J.D. Martinez at the plate. Only the Braves had a higher OPS (.844) in the MLB than the Dodgers .800 this season entering Saturday.
On the mound, Clayton Kershaw was his usual 35-year-old self with a 2.61 ERA in 117 1/3 innings, while the Dodgers turned to pitching prospects Bobby Miller, Ryan Bebiot, Emmett Sheehan, and Gavin Stone to fill out their bullpen. Depleted rotation, with varying success.
An active trade deadline also helped matters, although the Dodgers seemingly acquired nothing but players with negative Wins Above Replacement at that point in the season. Hernandez, Amed Rosario, Lance Lynn, Ryan Yarbrough and Joe Kelly provided stabilization reinforcements.