The Dodgers officially have nothing left to play for.
Not regarding their position in the standings, anyway.
Despite an 8-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at Coors Field, the Dodgers’ long-shot hopes at earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs were dashed as the Atlanta Braves locked up the top spot with a walk-off win over the Chicago Cubs.
As a result, the Dodgers will be the No. 2 seed. In the NL division series, they will meet either the Milwaukee Brewers (who will be the No. 3 seed as the NL Central champions), or one of several wild-card teams, with the Cubs, Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks likeliest to finish in the sixth spot and face the Brewers in a wild-card series next week.
“It changes every night it seems like,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But I don’t play that [who are we facing] game too much.”
It had been clear for a while that the Dodgers wouldn’t catch the Braves.
Though they trimmed what had been a seven-game gap down to a couple games in recent weeks, Atlanta’s recent 6-2 run eliminated any final-week shake-up at the top of the standings.
Atlanta will face either the Philadelphia Phillies — locked in as the No. 4 seed as the NL’s top wild-card team — or one of the other wild-card clubs in the division series.
If both the Dodgers and Braves advance to the NL championship series, the Braves would have home-field advantage.
The Dodgers have plenty of work to do to get there — facing an uncertain playoff path in which they’ll likely rely heavily on a core of rookie pitchers.
This week has eased some of those concerns, with Emmet Sheehan following up strong outings from rookie teammates Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove on Tuesday with a six-inning, two-run, 10-strikeout gem Wednesday night.
The 10 punchouts were Sheehan’s most since his debut in June. He lowered his ERA to 4.92 on the season and 3.68 in five outings during his latest call-up this month. And he continued to build his case to be a key member of the October pitching staff, seemingly in line to be one of several bulk-inning relievers.
“The performance speaks volumes,” Roberts said, particularly impressed with how all his young pitchers handled the high-altitude, hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. “For these pitcher to come into this environment, where you can expect the unexpected, tonight it just carried over to Emmet.”
Offensively, the Dodgers’ eight-run outburst was keyed by three-hit games from James Outman (who hit a home run) and Miguel Rojas. David Peralta had two hits and a RBI.
Then, in the eighth inning, Freddie Freeman punctuated the performance with a three-run homer. The blast was Freeman’s 28th of the year — with 58 doubles, he still is within striking distance of MLB’s first 60-double, 30-homer season — and pushed his RBI total past 100 for the fourth time in his career.
“I like 100 RBIs,” Freeman said with a sly grin. “That’s a good one.”