The Dodgers can still surpass the Giants and win their ninth straight NL West Division title. If they don’t, they might have a matchup with an old rival in the Wild Card game – the St. Louis Cardinals.
If someone were writing a script for the 2021 Dodgers, having to beat a former tormentor in a winner-take-all game fits into the plot nicely.
To be clear, this is much more about armchair anxiety for Dodgers fans than nerves for the actual players. Only three current Dodgers remain from the 2014 team that lost the 2014 NLDS to the Cardinals: Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, and Kenley Jansen. Four Cardinals are still on the 40-man roster, headlined by Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.
In short, these are two completely different teams from seven years ago.
Even so, a single elimination game against the Phillies, Mets, or Reds wouldn’t produce the same blood pressure for Dodgers fans as the Cardinals.
Traumatizing losses don’t wipe away easily. Especially for Dodgers fans.
This is a rivalry punctuated with Kershaw meltdowns (thanks Don Mattingly!), a gut-wrenching Matt Adams homer, and Molina picking off Andre Ethier.
The Dodgers would be facing one of the hottest teams in baseball. Through Thursday, the Cardinals have won a mind boggling 12 games in a row. Adam Wainwright, who has the fourth lowest ERA in the second half, would likely start. Last time the Dodgers faced Wainwright, it took their bats eight plus innings to get to him.
However, Los Angeles is by far, the better team. They could absolutely smoke the Cardinals in a Wild Card game. They have the better lineup, the better bullpen, and the best starter in Max Scherzer.
After an unexpected season of chasing the Giants, it could be a matchup Dodgers fans have come to expect in October, those damn Cardinals.