by Joshua Worley
The mouse that roared, eh? Wow, one game out of three against the mighty Mets. Heck, the Dodgers played them to a standstill in terms of runs scored, 11-11. Too bad they don't award post-season berths based on run differential. Good job surviving the Ruthian Roulette with Wells, though.
The Dodgers are 3.5 back of the Padres for the wild card, with the Phillies 3 back, the Braves 4 back, and the Rockies also 3.5 back. With the Dodgers being in a near tie for second, at this point it's basically all about catching the Padres, as I predicted about a week ago in my wild card speculations. If the Dodgers play well enough to pass the Padres they'll probably move out ahead of the other teams as well. Catching the Padres isn't something anyone should count on happening, but it could happen.
The Padres have 4 with Arizona starting today. Now this is very interesting, because the Padres are only 3 out in the NL West and if they won three out of four they would be just a game back of the Snakes. On the other hand, if the Padres were to say lose 3 of 4, then the Dodgers could pull within a game of them with a sweep of the Nats, whom they start a 3 game series with today. The Nats are not pushovers, but they still have to be counted as one of the easier teams to sweep in the NL. A team struggling to stay in contention would be well advised to sweep the Nats, as the Rockies just did. The Dodgers even have their three best pitchers going in this series. A sweep will be just the thing heading into this weekend's huge three game set with the Padres.
Yep, the Dodgers get a shot at the Padres this weekend. Getting swept by the Padres would basically end the season. It's a series win the Dodgers will need, at least. A lot will depend on how this week goes: if the Dodgers can sweep the Nats then they don't need to feel like they have to sweep the Padres. Which is good, since they really probably won't. The series will be in Petco. I'm sort of guessing that the Dodgers will skip Stults and go with Wells in the series opener if they can. With the day off before the series they ought to skip someone, so that Lowe and Billingsley can pitch the final two games against the Padres. One of the knocks against Wells was that he's been awful away from Petco this year, but the Friday start would be in Petco. For one shining start the acquisition would sort of make sense!
Speaking of Wells, how strange is it that he's spent all year trying to help the Padres, and now he's trying to hurt them? In their hearts I think a lot of players have to know that ultimately they are playing for themselves. In a larger sense it really is an individual game. You can talk about the team being the most important thing all you want, but it surely wouldn't make sense in connection with Wells. He's just trying to excel at his profession and make a few more bucks, all while living in Southern California. What could be better? Never mind that he pitches for separate bitter wild card rivals while he's doing it. Padres, Dodgers, whatever. Whoever is willing to give him the ball.
Who does pitch for the Padres in the big weekend series? At the moment it appears that it will be Peavy, Germano, and Stauffer. The Padres don't have an off day to play with, and in any case they probably view the series against the Snakes as more important than the one against the Dodgers. The wild card here is when Chris Young might come back. The Padres don't have anyone currently scheduled in for Thursday, so maybe he would start then if ready. I'm sure they'd also like to prevent Stauffer from getting another start as well, but the truth is the Padres starting pitching has become awfully thin after Peavy and Maddux. Maybe they should have made Wells rest for a few weeks instead of releasing him! I'm sure the Padres would rather take 2 runs in 5 innings than the stink bomb Stauffer produced yesterday.
Marcus Giles has gone on the DL, by the way. I'm sure this will hurt the Padres as much as losing Nomar Garciaparra has hurt the Dodgers. Over the last week the Padres have 6 red-hot regulars: Gonzalez, Bradley, Cameron, Bard, Greene, and Kouzmanoff. All have an OPS of at least 0.973 in the last week. Bradley is healthy again, while Gonzalez has carried the team all August. I'm not looking forward to seeing either of those guys this weekend.
Let's say that the Padres and Snakes split their 4 games. If the Dodgers can sweep the Nats and take two of three from the Padres, then they'd end up just a game back of the Padres next Monday morning. So that's the dream for the coming week. Near-perfection is what you need when you're 3.5 games out of a playoff spot.
After this week the Dodgers have three games left with the Padres, at Dodger Stadium. By that time I hope it's the Padres desperately needing to win the series. We'll see.