The Los Angeles Dodgers have just clinched the NL West with a 7-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Catcher A.J. Ellis hit a solo homerun in the eighth to put the Dodgers on top. This is the first time the Dodgers have won the NL West since 2009. They last won the World Series 25 years ago.
Despite having the highest payroll in MLB, the Dodgers got off to a terrible start this season and manager Don Mattingly’s job was in jeopardy.
And then along came Yasiel Puig. His spectacular play took the heat off Mattingly and ignited the team, especially Hanley Ramirez. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your starting rotation anchored by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke with Kenley Jansen closing games. On June 21, the Dodgers were 30-42 and in last place in the NL West, nine and a half games back of Arizona. The Dodgers then won 42 of their next 50 games.
The Dodgers have since come back to earth, playing just above .500 ball over the past month, but they still managed to clinch the division by ten and a half games, leaving the D’Backs in the dust.
Of course, clinching this early could prove to be a disadvantage to the Dodgers. They will be resting their regulars while those NL Central teams (Cardinals, Pirates and Reds) will be fighting to the bitter end and will likely be sharper against the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers have had a remarkable summer and will be a force with which to be reckoned.