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Dodgers have to be loving that extra wild-card spot now

September 19, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck

Forgotten all about that little National League West title thing? Good idea, now the Dodgers are 8½ games back of the Giants in the NL West. Yep, a month ago the Dodgers were actually in the lead.

How you liking that extra wild-card team now?

The Dodgers had better be. Heck, the National League had better be. It is the only real race left. Atlanta has already all but locked up the first wild-card berth, owning a 6½ game lead over the Cardinals.

But from St. Louis to Arizona, there are six teams within 4½ games of each other for the final playoff spot.

Heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Dodgers are 1½ games back of the Cardinals. Without that little tweak to the playoff format this season, the Dodgers would be out of this.

So you just know the Dodgers are loving the postseason playoff change.

"I liked it right away because it punishes the wild-card team," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.

Each league's two wild-card teams are scheduled to meet in a one-game playoff. Which means that if a team wants to stay alive in the postseason, it will want to go with its best starting pitcher in the wild-card game.

"You have to use him, so that way you're going into your first series using your No. 2, sometimes your No. 3, against probably their No. 1," Mattingly said. "So they're already set up from the beginning. I think it’s fair.

"The team that won its division should have an advantage."

Or at least the team that sneaked in as a wild-card team should be at some disadvantage.

Of course, the Dodgers would be at a severe disadvantage should they advance to the wild-card playoff game and be without ace Clayton Kershaw.

If Kershaw is unable to make a sudden recovery from his injured hip, the Dodgers' current No. 2 (Chad Billingsley is already out for the season) would have to step in. And if they won, their No. 3 would have to start the divisional playoff series.

Whoever those pitchers are. Mattingly could blindfold himself and throw a dart at pictures of Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Joe Blanton.

"Whoever matches up the best," Mattingly said. "I think for the most part you have to look at Josh, if we have to. He's been in the most big games."

ALSO:

Clayton Kershaw decision is on hold

Jamey Wright hopes to return to Dodgers next season

Clayton Kershaw, the golden arm and having to do the smart thing

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