Dodgers Win 110 Games, Tying 1927 Yankees and 1909 Pirates for Fifth-Most Wins in MLB History
With four more games to go before the playoffs start, the only thing left for them to do is avoid catastrophic injuries.
Hi friends. First off, a bit of housekeeping.
I’m going to be writing a lot this month, as I did last October. And we are going to be having daily threads for paying subscribers where we can all get together and freak out during playoff games. Last year we did threads during Dodger playoff games, and it was a smashing success. So this year we’re expanding it because I know you guys love a lot of different teams (and so do I!).
On days where several games are happening early in the playoffs, we’re going to have one big daily watch thread to talk about everything. Then as the playoffs move on to the later rounds we will have live threads for specific games. These threads are different than what you might find on Twitter or Reddit or wherever because I don’t allow trolls. You can root for your favorite team openly without fear of getting yelled at. Again, these private discussion groups are open to paid subscribers only, and they’re really fun, so if you would like to join us you should sign up here. A monthly subscription costs $6. Why not try it out for October?
I was going to write a big Dodgers season ending wrap-up after their final game of the regular season on Wednesday, but I couldn’t wait until then to address what is happening.
The Dodgers won their 110th game on Saturday night. In the same season. 110 games. Their previous franchise record was 106 wins, which they did in 2019 and then again in 2021. They’ve won four more games already this season, and they have four more home games against the hapless Colorado Rockies to go. I’m getting visions of Katie Ledecky lapping the other top competitors in the world. It’s also reminiscent of Aaron Judge having, like, double the number of home runs as the next biggest American League bopper.
The Dodgers have a 23-game lead in the NL West.
In notching their 110th win, L.A. tied the famed 1927 Yankees and the Honus Wagner-led 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates for fifth-most wins in MLB history.
And hardly any of their wins have been close. Their run differential of +336 is the best for any MLB team in 83 years.
They have done all this despite Walker Buehler, their best starting pitcher, missing most of the season with a torn UCL. They have also done this despite using a cooked Craig Kimbrel as their closer until last week. Partly because Kimbrel blew a ridiculous number of games, and partly because the Dodgers cannot figure out how to win in extra innings with the Manfred Man starting each inning on second base.
The Dodgers are actually five wins worse than God and Pythagoras intended. Given their run differential, they *should* be 115-42 right now. As a reminder, 116 is the record for wins in a season, and the Dodgers have four home games left against a team that gave up around Memorial Day.
All of this is to say that the 2022 Dodgers might be the greatest MLB team ever assembled.
And none of it will matter if they don’t win the World Series.
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First, the good: If the Dodgers win the next four games against the Rockies, which I think they will, they will tie the 1998 Yankees with 114 wins. Those Yankees throttled all comers in the playoffs that fall, won a World Series and cemented their place as the best team to take the field in my lifetime.
Now here’s the bad: The 2001 Seattle Mariners hold the all-time MLB record with 116 wins. They lost in the playoffs that season to the aforementioned Yankees, and did not make the playoffs again until 48 hours ago—21 years later.
The Dodgers are going to make the playoffs next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. They’ve won their division nine of the past 10 years, they’ve got a ton of money coming off the books to lock up Trea Turner and add another starting pitcher or two. And Andrew Friedman’s (correct) decision to stand pat at the trade deadline means their farm system remains one of the best in MLB.
But winning a championship this year is not going to be easy. For starters, it’s looking like after their first-round bye, the Dodgers might have to face the New York Mets in a five-game series. Which means having to beat Max Scherzer and/or Jacob deGrom more than once to advance to the next round. Do I like that matchup for the Dodgers? No. But I don’t like it for anyone, and L.A. probably has a better chance than anyone in baseball to slay that two-headed dragon. Scherzer is an animal, and I expect him to give up a maximum of one run while getting through a minimum of five innings, even if his right arm isn’t functional that day.
But deGrom? He’s been shaky (for him) lately. In his past four starts he’s given up 14 runs in 21 innings, including a four-run first inning to the Oakland A’s, who stepped into the batter’s box and swung like they had dinner reservations to get to, which I’m guessing told every scout everywhere that the way to beat deGrom is to ambush him by swinging early and often. (This also happens to be the only way to beat Clayton Kershaw, even if opposing teams run the risk of him throwing a 70-pitch, complete game shutout),
Another thing that should give Dodger fans hope about this potentially terrifying first-round matchup? The Braves just took care of deGrom and Scherzer on back-to-back nights to put them in the driver’s seat of winning the NL East.
The Dodgers do not have two healthy starters as good as deGrom and Scherzer, but no one does. They do, however, have the best offense in baseball, a crop of great starting pitchers who keep them in every single game, and the best bullpen in MLB—especially now that a struggling Kimbrel has been taken out of the closer role.
I’ve never liked the “who would you rather face in the playoffs?” parlor game because it never works out. While it might seem like a good thing for the Dodgers if the Mets win the NL East, that would potentially set up L.A. to face the defending champion Braves in the Division Series, and I think they’re an even bigger nightmare than New York. The Mets had a 10-game lead on the Braves this summer, but Atlanta caught them because they’ve played just a smidge worse than the Dodgers down the stretch, and as we know, the 2022 Dodgers are objectively one of the greatest regular-season baseball teams of all-time. Do not sleep on Atlanta.
We’re looking at a scenario where the Dodgers may potentially have to beat the Mets in a five-game series, then the scorching-hot Braves in the NLCS, then the freaking Astros (I can’t go there yet) in the World Series to win it all. Honestly? It just may take the best team of all-time to run that gauntlet.
While it would be cool to win out and match the 1998 Yankees’ 114-win total for third-best of all-time, the Dodgers have got to prioritize staying healthy over these next four days more than winning ballgames. As most of us are painfully aware, their championship hopes were dashed on the final weekend of the season last year when Clayton Kershaw and Max Muncy both went down with injuries that sidelined them for October. They had no choice but to push their starters last year through the finish line, however, because they were chasing the Giants in the division.
This year they have no such conundrum. Any star with so much as a hangnail must be held out of any regular-season contest going forward. I know Freddie Freeman is fighting to win the batting title and wants to play every day because that’s who he is. Trea Turner and Mookie Betts are built the same way. This is why the Dodgers are so good. But, man, one errant fastball to the wrist (or ribs) to any of those guys during these next four games that don’t matter would not be great!
Kershaw is slated to start Wednesday’s season finale. I would simply go with Hanser Alberto.
The Dodgers just have to get through the next 36 innings without injuries. That’s it. If they can do that, well, I believe they will capture their second world championship in the past three years, and start their own even-year dynasty.
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