Los Angeles Dodgers: Max Scherzer altered NL playoff picture

Sep 18, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the mission is clear – World Series repeat or bust. They made that obvious during the offseason when they added Trevor Bauer to their stable of pitchers, one-upping the Padres in their divisional arms race. Then, when Bauer was placed on administrative leave, the Dodgers swiped Max Scherzer from under the Padres’ noses, driving home their point that only another title would be considered a successful season.

It is not hyperbolic to say that Scherzer has made a tremendous difference in the fortunes of those two franchises. The Padres have begun to implode due to injuries to their pitching staff, while the Dodgers have already clinched a playoff berth. Had the Padres been able to land Scherzer, it is easy to imagine that they would also be in the postseason.

Max Scherzer on dominant run with Los Angeles Dodgers

While the Dodgers expected Scherzer to be a key part of their rotation, they may not have expected his current level of domination. He has posted an incredible 0.78 ERA and a 0.655 WHiP in his 58 innings with Los Angeles, striking out 79 batters with just seven walks. He has yet to lose any of his decisions, going 7-0 during that time.

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Yet, as dominant as Scherzer has been overall, he has been even better in his last 36.2 innings. In those five starts, he has allowed just one unearned run on 14 hits and three walks, striking out 48 batters. He has been absolutely untouchable lately.

While it is impossible to expect such dominance to continue, this is everything that the Dodgers had hoped for. With Clayton Kershaw back, and looking as dominant as ever, the Dodgers have a duo atop their rotation that can match up with anyone. Add in their postseason experience, including the knowledge of what it takes to win a championship, and the Dodgers are as dangerous of a team as there is in the league.

Sometimes, one player can make a major difference in the fortunes of a team. In this case, Scherzer has altered the playoff picture entirely. The Dodgers are still contending for the division, while the Padres have to trot out the likes of Vince Velasquez and the corpse of Jake Arrieta. Just imagine what the postseason chase would be like if he had gone to San Diego as expected.

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Max Scherzer has been even better than the Los Angeles Dodgers could have imagined. With his dominance, he has changed the NL playoff picture entirely.