The Los Angeles Dodgers saw little obstacles standing in their way in 2020 but a shortened season puts the odds against them.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been seeking an elusive World Series title since 1988. 2020 was going to be the season Dodger fans have been waiting for. Not only was the blue entering the season as the favorites to win the National League pennant, but after the additions of Mookie Betts and David Price, there were little if any holes on LA’s deep and extremely talented roster.
Then before the spring training schedule could reach its conclusion, the United States, and even bigger the World, was hit with one of the worst pandemics in recent memory with the COVID-19 virus. While the MLB season is expected to happen at some point this season, the schedule will likely be abbreviated and with each game lost the juggernaut Dodgers stand to lose the most of any other team.
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Prior to the delayed season, the Dodgers were seemingly postseason locks as Fangraphs gave them a 98.7% chance of making the playoffs with a schedule of 162 games. If the schedule is cut in half and shrunk to 81 games, that playoff possibility drops to 71.4%. While that is still very good odds to make the postseason, the difference is significant.
The Dodgers’ odds of winning their eighth straight NL West title drop from 92.7% to as low as 56% if half the season is lost due to COVID-19. While every other postseason team also suffers from a shortened season, the Dodgers stand to lose the most as they were healthy and ready to get the season underway prior to MLB postponing the season until at least May.
One of the biggest strengths for LA is its roster that is one of the deepest in the game. An abbreviated schedule will mean fewer days off for position players and teams with poor depth may not run into the issue of surviving the dog days of a marathon season. Andrew Friedman has built his clubs to withstand the long season but this year, depth may not be as important as other years.
Teams such as the Yankees and Astros will take the break as the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino. The Astros’ were also looking at starting the season with Justin Verlander but now losing Verlander for six weeks likely will mean no games are missed. Even the Twins will benefit from the extra time off as Rich Hill is set to return in June.
In addition to their playoff odds taking a subtle hit, the Dodgers will get fewer games out of Mookie Betts. While you can make the argument fewer games can have its benefits, the Dodgers paid a price for Betts by taking on David Price in addition to sending Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong to Boston.
The Los Angeles Dodgers should still emerge as the cream of the crop in the National League, but a shortened season means more oddities, and for the juggernaut Dodgers, that should at least cause a little uneasiness for a team that was going to easily win 100 games in 2020.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.