LOS ANGELES -- He won't say it publicly, but one of manager Don Mattingly's biggest challenges the next three weeks is balancing how much he rests his aching players with pushing for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The issue arose Sunday when Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw told reporters in Cincinnati he still has his sights on securing the best record in the National League. With 20 games left, the Dodgers trail the Atlanta Braves by two games for that distinction.
Does it matter? Apparently not a great deal to Mattingly, who has already inserted highly unpredictable starter Edinson Volquez in his rotation for at least two turns and rested most of his starters last week in a series in Colorado. Mattingly said it "would be nice" to secure home field -- hardly a resounding rallying cry.
"Basically, you've got to win games everywhere," Mattingly said.
And, if you look at the numbers, you really can't argue. ESPN Stats & Info's Mark Simon dug into the numbers:
• Since the 2-2-1 format was adopted in the division series in 1998, teams with home-field advantage have won 30 of the 60 series.
• Since the current format was adopted in the championship series in 1996, teams with home-field advantage have won 17 of the 34 series.
Not a math whiz here, but it looks like teams have got about a 50-50 shot of winning no matter where they play.
There are exceptions, though. If the Dodgers should play the Braves in the second round and it were to go seven games, they would be better off playing four of those at home.
Atlanta, with its powerful, but strikeout-prone, lineup, has played at a .718 rate at home and a .479 rate on the road. Dodger Stadium is one of the best pitchers' parks in baseball. Turner Field has much friendlier home run fences.
Here are lineups for Monday's game with the Arizona Diamondbacks, as the Dodgers look to trim their magic number for clinching to eight:
1. Adam Eaton CF
2. Aaron Hill 2B
3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
4. Eric Chavez 3B
5. Martin Prado LF
6. Miguel Montero C
7. Gerardo Parra RF
8. Didi Gregorius SS
9. Randall Delgado RHP
1. Yasiel Puig RF
2. Carl Crawford LF
3. Hanley Ramirez SS
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Andre Ethier CF
6. Juan Uribe 3B
7. Mark Ellis 2B
8. Tim Federowicz C
9. Ricky Nolasco RHP