Will the West be won?
Pitching is on their side
True, the Dodgers aren't playing their best ball at the moment, and it's easy to understand why fans would feel like any luck without Matt Kemp has been pushed to the limit. But even in the midst of a notable skid, I'm absolutely confident they'll wrap up this series against a hated rival in control of the NL West.
For starters, math is on their side. With a three-game lead over the Giants, San Francisco would have to sweep just to achieve even records. You can't ever really count on a sweep, even against a team like the Dodgers, who have lost seven of their past 10 games. Particularly when the Giants have lost six of their past 10 themselves. It's hard to picture either truly dominating.
It's also worth noting the Dodgers enter the Bay Area to face a relatively soft space of the Giants' rotation. Tuesday features Ryan Vogelsong, and he's been good all season, but he'll be matched against a fairly good pitcher in his own right. (Goes by Clayton Something-Or-Other.) In the meantime, the bookends are Barry Zito -- erratic all season and nursing a horrendous June -- and Tim Lincecum, who's been anything but the ace we've come to expect. I'll take Nate Eovaldi and Chad Billingsley over that duo any day of the week.
Plus, never underestimate the power of Juan Uribe against his former team.
OK, that part I'm kidding about. But everything else is legit.
Dodgers falling back to Earth
Math isn't really on my side in this argument, at least in the short term. After all, the Dodgers have a three-game lead in the NL West and even if they were to drop three straight to the Giants in San Francisco this week they would still be tied with their rivals atop the division.
So, in short, the Dodgers will still technically lead the NL West after their series against the Giants, but their grip on the lead will be lost by the end of the week, when they finish a four-game home series against the Mets.
The Dodgers leading the West and having the best record in baseball with their current roster never felt like a long-term reality. It was like trying to make a cross-country trip on one tank of gas. They were making great time early on, but eventually they were doomed to sputter out. This is not to say they can't compete this season if they reload and tune up their roster, but this feel-good story early on always seemed destined to start fading away sometime in July.
Even as the Dodgers were reeling off five- and six-game winning streaks earlier this season, front-office types, including Tommy Lasorda, always mentioned how close the Giants were. "You'd think we were running away with this thing," Lasorda said. "But they've been right there every step of the way."
Now as the Dodgers are coming back to Earth, having lost eight of 12 games, the Giants are finally ready to take that next step atop the NL West.