There’s a lot to like about the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have the best record (74-31) in baseball, they have the best run differential (+185) in baseball, they’ve won eight straight, they’re 39-6 (.867) over their last 45 games, and they have a 14-game lead in the NL West. And they acquired Yu Darvish before the trade deadline Monday.
In short, they’ve been dominant.
But regular-season dominance does not guarantee a World Series title – or even a World Series appearance. After all, the Nationals (63-41) have the third-best record in the majors, and the Cubs (56-48) are finally starting to resemble the team that won it all a season ago.
We’ll start with the Nationals, whose trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez is every bit as good – and maybe even better – than the Dodgers’ trio of Clayton Kershaw, Darvish, and Alex Wood. Washington also has MVP candidate Bryce Harper, who is hitting .329 with a .429 OBP, 27 homers and 80 RBIs.
“I think on paper this might be the best team that they’ve had,” USA Today columnist and MLB Network analyst Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “This is a franchise that’s never won a postseason series. It’s time to do it. It looks like they’ll be playing the Cubs the first round, so we’ll see. Max Scherzer is going to mean a whole lot or decide who’s going to win that first round. You still got Strasburg behind him and Gio Gonzalez behind him, so it’s certainly a team that’s capable of getting to the World Series. We’ll see what happens.”
The Cubs, meanwhile, have finally awoken from their first-half malaise. After going 43-45 before the All-Star break, the Cubs are 13-3 in their last 16 games. They also acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from Detroit before the trade deadline.
“They’re a completely different team now,” Nightengale said. “They’re not going to be favored to win the World Series, but they still have the arsenal to get back there. I think these moves were clutch by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer (knowing) what it takes to get to the World Series once again.”