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Dodgers Dugout: Should we care that the Dodgers won the NL West again?

The Dodgers celebrate after clinching the NL West title.
(Maddy Grassy / Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I have clinched the “Best Dodgers newsletter presented by the L.A. Times” title for the ninth year in a row.

The Dodgers defeated the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night to clinch their 10th NL West title in the last 11 seasons. This was the most unexpected title as most “experts” (this newsletter included) had chosen the Padres to win the title. Glad to be wrong about that one.

The Dodgers had the usual champagne celebration in the clubhouse afterward, drawing a lot of criticism (and some praise) from readers who feel they should not be celebrating winning the NL West when the goal is to win the World Series.

I want to hear from you. Is it OK that the Dodgers have a big celebration about winning the NL West? Click here to vote.

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A few years ago, I criticized the team for celebrating the NL West title. I have since changed my mind. While the ultimate goal should be to win the World Series, winning any division title is a grind. Six months of playing and competing to win a division isn’t easy. It might be the only division title some of the players ever win. If they want to celebrate it, go ahead. It’s not going to take away from the effort to win the World Series. After all, every team celebrates winning their division (or even clinching the wild card) and every year one of those teams wins it all. There’s nothing wrong with bringing some joy to the world with a celebration.

Many sports fans in L.A. were influenced greatly by the 1980s Showtime Lakers. Every year, Magic Johnson would remind the Lakers and the fans that making the playoffs wasn’t worth a big celebration. Winning the NBA title was. So that became the standard. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. It’s up to the team to decide. As Clayton Kershaw said after they clinched, “It wasn’t like a ‘silence the doubters’ kind of moment. We were expecting to do this. We were supposed to do this. But it doesn’t make it any less special.”

Speaking of winning the NL West, there’s a reason many fans don’t get too excited. Let’s take a look at the NL West winners this century:

2001-Arizona
2002-Arizona
2003-San Francisco
2004-Dodgers
2005-San Diego
2006-San Diego
2007-Arizona
2008-Dodgers
2009-Dodgers
2010-San Francisco
2011-Arizona
2012-San Francisco
2013-Dodgers
2014-Dodgers
2015-Dodgers
2016-Dodgers
2017-Dodgers
2018-Dodgers
2019-Dodgers
2020-Dodgers
2021-San Francisco
2022-Dodgers
2023-Dodgers

Here’s the total since 2001:

Dodgers, 13 division titles
San Francisco, 4
Arizona, 4
San Diego, 2
Colorado, 0

Here’s how many times the NL West winner reached the World Series:

2001-Arizona
2010-San Francisco
2012-San Francisco
2017-Dodgers
2018-Dodgers
2020-Dodgers

So, the Dodgers reached three of 12 (not counting this season) times, San Francisco two of four, Arizona one of four and San Diego 0 for two.

And here’s how many times the NL West winner won the World Series:

2001-Arizona
2010-San Francisco
2012-San Francisco
2020-Dodgers

So, four of the previous 22 NL West winners became World Series champions.

Of note, 14 NL West teams qualified for the postseason as a wild card, and three of those teams, San Francisco in 2002, Colorado in 2007 and San Francisco in 2014, reached the World Series. The 2014 Giants won the World Series.

Just to put a bow on it, here are the NL West World Series winners since 2001:

San Francisco, 3
Arizona, 1
Dodgers, 1

So, while the Dodgers can understandably celebrate, there’s still a long road to winning the title.

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Pitching

There are 14 games left in the regular season. The offense continues to hum along, averaging 6.1 runs per game in the last two weeks. But the Achilles’ heel remains the pitching. Who is going to start in the best-of-five NLDS? Who will be in the bullpen? Let’s take a look at the numbers the last two weeks to see if we can determine any trends.

Rotation
Shelby Miller, 0.00 ERA, 1 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 K

Ryan Pepiot, 1-1, 2.77 ERA, 13 IP, 7 hits, 0 walks, 8 K’s

Clayton Kershaw, 3.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 hits, 7 walks, 7 K’s

Bobby Miller, 2-0, 4.12 ERA, 19.2 IP, 15 hits, 5 walks, 20 K’s

Ryan Yarbrough, 4.50 ERA, 4 IP, 5 hits, 0 walks, 5 K’s

Lance Lynn, 1-1, 7.71 ERA, 11.2 IP, 12 hits, 5 walks, 4 K’s

Emmet Sheehan, 10.39 ERA, 4.1 IP, 6 hits, 1 walk, 4 K’s

Gavin Stone, 11.81 ERA, 5.1 IP, 9 hits, 1 walk, 2 K’s

Bullpen
Brusdar Graterol, 0.00 ERA, 1 save, 4.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 K’s

Caleb Ferguson, 0.00 ERA, 3.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 walks, 5 K’s

Ryan Brasier, 0.00 ERA, 4.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 8 K’s

Alex Vesia, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 IP, 4 hits, 0 walks, 6 K’s

Emmet Sheehan, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 5 K’s

Gavin Stone, 0.00 ERA, 1 save, 3.1 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 5 K’s

Kyle Hurt, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s

Shelby Miller, 0.00 ERA, 4 IP, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s

Victor González, 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 2 K’s

Evan Phillips, 1-1, 3.60 ERA, 2 saves, 5 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 5 K’s

Wander Suero, 1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 K’s

Gus Varland, 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 2.2 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 K

Ryan Yarbrough, 1-1, 4.70 ERA, 7.2 IP, 8 hits, 2 walks, 10 K’s

Joe Kelly, 10.80 ERA, 1.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 4 K’s

Team, 8-5, 3.94 ERA, 4 saves, 118.2 IP, 103 hits, 32 walks, 113 K’s.

With all the days off in the NLDS, you could probably get away with carrying only three starting pitchers. Clayton Kershaw is the unknown factor here. It appears the Dodgers will be lucky to get five innings out of him, and can he come back on even four days’ rest? But as of now, I’d go with this as the rotation:

Kershaw
Bobby Miller
Ryan Pepiot

Right, no Lance Lynn. When he’s bad, it seems to be 5-0 before you can even get a reliever warmed up. Can’t afford that in a five-game series. They could carry him on the roster in case they do need a fourth starter, but right now he’s been pitching too poorly to make the team. There’s still two weeks left to pitch his way back in, though.

If the Dodgers go with a three-man rotation, that leaves space for 10 relievers.

Right-handers
Evan Phillips
Brusdar Graterol
Ryan Brasier
Shelby Miller

Left-handers
Caleb Ferguson
Alex Vesia
Ryan Yarbrough

That’s seven, so three spots remain. You put Lynn on the roster for emergency and Emmet Sheehan on to eat up innings (he has pitched much better out of the bullpen, with a 2.57 ERA this season than as a starter, 5.91 ERA). Who is left? Kyle Hurt looked great in his debut, but he was sent back to the minors the same night. Joe Kelly hasn’t pitched that well since returning to the Dodgers, but he has postseason experience. Victor González would give them four lefties, so if they face a team with a lot of left-handed hitters, he could get the call.

The next two weeks will be an audition for the final couple of spots, so pay attention to how the bullpen does.

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Here’s the NLDS schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7
Game 2: Monday, Oct. 9
Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 11
Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 12
Game 5: Saturday, Oct. 14

Up next

Monday: Detroit (*Eduardo Rodriguez, 11-8, 3.32 ERA) at Dodgers (Lance Lynn, 11-11, 5.94 ERA), 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Tuesday: Detroit (TBD) at Dodgers (TBD), 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday: Detroit (Reese Olson, 4-7, 4.30 ERA) at Dodgers (Bobby Miller, 10-3, 4.02 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

In case you missed it

Dodgers clinch their 10th NL West title in 11 years: ‘We were expecting to do this’

Walker Buehler on shutting it down for the season: ‘I got really, really close’

Dodgers closer Evan Phillips has a new challenge: ‘You can’t replicate postseason pressure’

Plaschke: The race is over, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts should be National League MVP

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Young Dodgers reliever Kyle Hurt caps a ‘pretty crazy 24 hours’ with strong showing

Hernández: Despite his injuries, the Dodgers want to sign Shohei Ohtani and are his best option

And finally

The Dodgers celebrate another division title. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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