With three weeks left in the major-league baseball season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are three games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the race for the National League Western division, despite being without Clayton Kershaw for a third of their season. Clayton Kershaw, possibly the best pitcher in baseball, recently came back after missing two months with a back injury.
Without their ace, the Dodgers managed to go 38-24 while Kershaw was out. Somehow passing the San Francisco Giants atop the National League West during that time, LA used a solid offense and a dependable bullpen to withstand what otherwise would have been a devastating loss, with Kershaw out for that long of a time. Shortstop Corey Seger showed why he is the clear front runner for the National League Rookie of the Year award while Kershaw was out, carrying the Dodgers offense by himself at times without their ace.
Having such success without Kershaw can only help the Dodgers as they come down the stretch of the regular season, if they can hold on to their division lead, while Kershaw rounds into form since returning on Friday against the Marlins.The Dodgers could be the most dangerous team in the National League playoffs, especially if Kershaw continues to show progress in his recovery from his back injury.
The six remaining games against the rival Giants will prove critical if the Dodgers want other teams to consider them a threat going in to October. If they have to play in the one-game, winner-take-all wild card game, chances are they’ll lose because their ace might not be at full strength yet, so a five game series might give them the best chance to succeed in the postseason.