Manager Don Mattingly watches the Dodgers play the Rockies during a series… (Dustin Bradford / Getty…)
He wants it, but not that much. I mean, he would love for it to happen but just tell him the cost.
Because that’s the unknown when you ask Don Mattingly whether it’s important to him the Dodgers finish with the best record in the National League.
If the Dodgers do end up with the league’s top record, they would have home-field advantage should they advance to the National League Championship Series. With 20 games to go, they trail the Braves by two for the league’s best record.
They open a three-game series Monday against the second-place Diamondbacks with an 11-game lead in the NL West, so should they focus on overtaking the Braves, play the regulars all the way through?
“What’s the risk-reward of that?” Mattingly counters. “A guy’s leg’s been sore and his hammy is a little tight -- do you keep playing him or give him the breather and try to get him healthy?
“It wouldn’t make much sense. If we get to that point -- we’re all hypothetical, right? -- and I play [Hanley Ramirez] and he screws up a hammy and can’t play Game 1, 2, 3 or 4 of the playoffs and you tell me that’s worth it, then I’ll play him.”
I told him I’d get back to him, but you get his point. After the Dodgers clinch the West, they can focus on the Braves, but not at the expense of failing to give players a needed break going into the postseason. Home-field is desired, but only at a reasonable price.
“In a perfect world, I’d rather have it,” he said.
Mattingly, however, noted wild-card teams have won the World Series, and never had the home-field advantage in any series they played. Home field is great, but hardly necessary.
“I don’t think it has to be that way,” he said. “We’ve seen wild-card teams win the whole thing.”
Atlanta's remaining schedule has them playing the Marlins (four), Padres (three), Nationals (three), Cubs (three), Brewers (three) and Phillies (four). Of those five teams, only the Nationals have a winning record.
The Dodgers finish with the Diamondbacks, Giants (four), Diamondbacks (four), Padres (three), Giants (three) and Rockies (three).
Each team plays half its remaining games at home, but with the Dodgers playing the Diamondbacks and the rival Giants each seven times, they would appear to have the more challenging schedule.