On the morning of August 17th, 2018, when I am writing this because like all humans I operate real well on last-minute deadlines, the Diamondbacks are in first place in the NL West by 1.5 games over the Colorado Rockies and 2.0 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
By the way, as a sidebar, do you know that the Colorado Rockies have been in existence for 25 years and have never won the NL West? They theoretically could do it this year, and bully to them if they do, but wow, that seems embarrassing.
(In case you’re new here, “The Rockies have never won the NL West” is basically my go-to “The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the finals” bit)
It’s Mid-August, and thus we are at the time of year where if your favorite team is in contention, is when you can posit out loud that they can “Do the damn thing!” where the verb of “do” in that sentence means “win” and “the damn thing!” means “the division.”
It’s probably a longshot. According to Fangraphs, the Dodgers still have the best odds of winning the NL West, and there’s some logic to that. They have previous history and precedence on their side, and they have the easiest schedule left of the three major contenders. However, there is a chance that some “Insecure little team in the desert will prevent the Dodgers from celebrating their inevitable triumph.” That’s a quote from a column written a week and a half ago by a Dodger columnist that I will not link to because clicks are value-neutral, and your hate clicks will count the same as regular ones. So stop hate-clicking on things, kids.
The Dodgers believing in some NL West Manifest Destiny is pretty on-par with all super rich entities who were born on Third Base (to use a baseball metaphor.) believing they earned it and nobody should question it, even as they obviously stumble.
(Obviously, all Baseball teams are owned by ultra-rich types whose wealth we will never approach until The Revolution comes, but the Dodgers are the special breed that decided to spite a large portion of their fanbase for the love of money by taking a TV deal that made it so many people in Southern California couldn’t watch the team regularly.)
The Dodgers are hampered by a lackluster bullpen. This would be good news for the NL West if they, collectively, weren’t also hampered by a lackluster bullpen. Statistically speaking, the Diamondbacks have the best bullpen of this group of three, but it sure doesn’t feel like that lately. However, to make you feel better, I present this side by side comparison:
One of these columns is the ERAs of the five most used relievers on the 2018 Colorado Rockies. One of these is the ERAs of the five most used relievers of the 2010 Diamondbacks, who can be considered the standard of bullpen failure. It’s also a fun thought exercise in the difference between average and median.
So this isn’t a divisional fight between three superteams that are landing and absorbing blow after blow. It’s more seeing which overconfident doofus lasts the longest on the obstacle course on Wipeout. There is inherit entertainment in that (Hee hee, he fell in the water!) However, let’s not pretend that it’s a high-brow Masterpiece Theater production.
That doesn’t make the joy of Doing The Damn Thing(TM) any less. This wouldn’t be the most improbable Diamondbacks division winner by any means, but being the team that hypothetically stops the Dodger run of titles would be an extra cherry on top.
The Diamondbacks could still win a Wild Card, but as we found out last year, normal bullpen management goes out the window in the playoffs, and the chance of burning through two starters in the Play-in game is high again, and we know how behind the 8-Ball that puts you. It’s a good outcome in a vacuum, and I think we’d all take it, but the chance for more is there.
The time is now. DO THE DAMN THING D-BACKS!