How the Dodgers can beat the resurgent D-Backs and win the division

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Joc Pederson #31 celebrates with Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they defeated the Texas Rangers in the eleventh inning at Dodger Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Joc Pederson #31 celebrates with Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they defeated the Texas Rangers in the eleventh inning at Dodger Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

After an odd, yet not unwelcome win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, the Dodgers are finally starting to look like the team that dominated the game last summer.

In a series where the Dodgers needed a sweep, for morale, and for the sake of the division race, they got it. Sure, it was a two-game series, but it was a sweep nonetheless. Tuesday’s win came swiftly and fiercely, as the Dodgers would beat the Rangers 12-5. Wednesday’s W was far more dramatic.

Matt Kemp and Robinson Chirinos got thrown out for fighting, and the game went into extras. In the end, though, the Dodgers earned their first walk-off win of the season in a way that only the Dodgers could; Austin Barnes hit a routine groundout, but Kiké Hernandez speed to the plate and danced around the tag, winning the game and, frankly, the hearts of every Dodger fan in the world.

And, just like that, the Dodgers are two games back from first headed into a series that could make or break the season for the San Francisco Giants.

With Evan Longoria injured, and the team as a whole 5.5 games back from first, they would have to surpass both the Dodgers and the D-Backs and hope that the Dodgers fail to find any mid-season heroics along the way.

The Dodgers, however, are looking like the team that dominated baseball last season. This season, they are playing far better than their record shows, scoring 57 more runs than they’ve allowed (insert scene of Jonah Hill talking to Brad Pitt in Moneyball here.)

So, statistically, the Dodgers have nothing to worry about if they keep playing like they have been lately. The problem with that is that the injury bug has hit the Dodgers square in the face and they’re going to need reinforcements.

Enter Oklahoma City.

The Dodgers’ Triple-A Team is first in the PCL American Northern, meaning they’ve been good, scratch that, great all season. With a record of 39-24, that team is firing on all cylinders.

Though the division race that statistically means the most is the one the Dodgers are currently in the midst of, OKC’s success means that their players are ready for the big leagues. Being a minor leaguer in Triple-A, and helping your team win, is only one step removed from helping your major league affiliate win.

And, as they say so eloquently in Moneyball, “your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.” The Dodgers could have sent Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo to Miami in order to have All-Star slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, in their lineup. Instead, they traded for Matt Kemp and called up Max Muncy.

I see no difference.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this ode to Moneyball and the Dodgers is yes, the LA can win the division, even with their current DL situation.

There are many was the Dodgers can do this but one, and in my opinion, the strongest, way to do this is to do what Friedman and Zaidi have been doing all along; refuse to trade top prospects. I’m not necessarily opposed to trading a number 4 or 5 prospect, like the Dodgers did for Yu Darvish but, now, does it make sense to?

Some may say yes, and they have a point. Others will say no, and for the sake of the argument, I am going to side with the latter.

There was a time when the teams were knocking on the Dodgers’ door, asking for Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager in a trade. The front office told each of those teams the same thing, no, and boy are we glad they did.

Seager, though currently injured, is still an asset to this team, and Cody Bellinger no longer needs to be in the business of proving himself to the LA faithful. Those guys are Dodgers, through and through.

Walker Buehler, who is another name on an ever-growing list of injured players, is still poised for a breakout season.

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The Dodgers could trade their top prospects for All-Stars, but trades don’t always work out. Anything can happen, and the Dodgers know that better than anyone. Last summer they traded one of their top prospects, Willie Calhoun, to the Texas Rangers for Yu Darvish.

I’m not really in the mood to relive the World Series right now, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m not saying that every potential star the Dodgers trade for will turn out like Darvish did, but if the Dodgers are going to beat the D-Backs, they’ll need to rely on themselves, which is something they have been doing pretty well lately.

The Dodgers may trade Alex Verdugo at the deadline, they may not. Walker Buehler could have an All-Star summer or an average one.

Regardless, the Dodgers have proven that they can draft, and trade for under-the-radar guys and help them become superstars. The Dodgers are the underdogs of the National League, even though they are the reigning NL Champs. They’re the team that started off slow, but then hit the gas and launched themselves back into contention.

Next: The Hypocrisy of Suspending Matt Kemp

Things are about to get interesting.