The Dodgers have had a series of clinching moments over the past few weeks, so we know they won’t have to play in the Wild Card round of the postseason. We also know they’ll have home-field advantage in the NLDS and, if they get there, in the NLCS. They can clinch home-field for a potential World Series matchup this week.
But what we don’t know yet is who the Dodgers might face in the NLDS. There are currently five possibilities, so let’s look at them, from least likely to most likely.
The Brewers are the least likely NLDS opponent of the five possibilities, simply because right now, they’re on the outside looking in for the postseason overall. They’re currently 1.5 games behind the Phillies for the third and final Wild Card spot. But in order to be in position to play the Dodgers, they’d actually have to jump up to the second Wild Card spot, and then they’d have to beat either the Braves or the Mets, whichever doesn’t win the NL East.
The Phillies currently hold the third Wild Card spot, which puts them on the other side of the NL playoff bracket from the Dodgers. If they were to jump up to the second Wild Card — and they’re currently 1.5 games behind the Padres for that spot — they would play either the Braves or the Mets in the Wild Card round, with the winner taking on the Dodgers in the NLDS. Not quite as unlikely as the Brewers, simply because the Phillies are at least already in playoff position, but still pretty unlikely.
San Diego Padres
If the playoffs started today, the Padres would take on the Braves in the Wild Card round. The Braves are only a game behind the Mets in the NL East, though, and San Diego will face whichever team doesn’t win that division (assuming the Padres hold on to the number two WC spot). So really, all the Padres need to do is win two games against either the Mets or the Braves to set up the NLDS matchup with Los Angeles; the main thing working against them is that they’re not nearly as good as the Mets or the Braves.
New York Mets
The Mets and the Braves are almost interchangeable here, but we have the Mets as slightly less likely than the Braves simply because the Mets currently have a one-game lead in the NL East, and the winner of the East can’t play the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Mets and Braves play each other three times this weekend, and both of them play the Marlins and Nationals in their other remaining games. So this weekend’s series could very well determine which team gets a bye in the WC round and which team has to burn some starters to earn the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.
If the playoffs started today, the Braves would play the Padres in a best-of-three series in Atlanta, with the winner heading to L.A. to face the Dodgers in the NLDS. That makes the Braves the most likely NLDS opponent for Los Angeles. It would be the fourth time in the last five years the two teams met up in the postseason, with the Dodgers beating Atlanta in the 2018 NLDS and the 2020 NLCS before falling to the Braves in the 2021 NLCS. Of course, it would be their first postseason meeting since longtime Dodger Kenley Jansen became a Brave and longtime Brave Freddie Freeman became a Dodger.
The Dodgers know when and where they’ll be playing their first postseason game: October 11 at Dodger Stadium. The five teams we listed here don’t even know that. Over the next two weeks, we’ll find out a lot about who will be joining the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine for a date in the NLDS.
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