The Los Angeles Dodgers enter Tuesday night’s matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks with an incredible 91-38 record, despite dropping their first series in months at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers this past weekend. They are playing at a .705 clip, on pace for 113 wins.
In 2001, the Seattle Mariners tied the MLB record for most wins in a regular season by going 116-46 (a .716 winning percentage). To get to that number, the Dodgers will have to go 25-8 over their final 33 games. L.A. must go 26-7 to break the record at 117 wins.
The players’ feelings aside (they don’t seem to care about the record, as long as they win the World Series), it would be an awesome, historic achievement for one of the best teams we’ve ever seen. Amassing 25 or 26 wins over the final five weeks of the season isn’t out of the question for a team that rattled off a 43-7 stretch earlier in the summer, but it will take another scorching hot run to get there.
On top of that, the Dodgers will have more than half of those games against potential playoff teams (Arizona, Colorado and Washington), 19 of them on the road. Though they have put together the best record at home and on the road this season, the Dodgers are almost untouchable in L.A. The small number of September home games puts their shot at immortality in jeopardy.
The combination of a relatively difficult schedule, resting certain players to prepare for the postseason, and the inevitable cooling-off period that has already begun will make the pursuit of 116 wins extremely difficult. Of course, if any team can pull it off, it’s this Dodger team. Let’s take a look at their remaining schedule:
They’ll end August with a three-game slate on the road against the wild card-leading Diamondbacks, before segueing into four in San Diego, including a makeup doubleheader on September 2. The first half of that road trip will be the toughest test — the Dodgers have historically handled the Padres well.
Against the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers are 8-5 this year, but the last two series have been closely contested. They’ll finish their season series with three more at home right after they wrap up in San Diego. Realistically, the Dodgers are looking at a statistical likelihood of going 4-2 in those games against Arizona, accounting for nearly one-third of their allowed losses when chasing 116. If they can come up with two sweeps, or lose only once, they’ll be in a much better position.
To even approach 116, the Dodgers will likely have to sweep their road series in San Diego (four games), San Francisco (3), Philadelphia (4) and their home series against the Giants and Padres (3 each). That would get them to 17 of the 25 wins necessary to tie the record. That also allows them to lose a couple to Arizona, or some of the seven they have left against Colorado (4 in L.A., 3 in Colorado).
The Rockies are currently holding the second wild card spot and have always played the Dodgers tough. Anything can happen at Coors Field, and the Dodgers are only 7-5 against the Rockies this year, on the strength of a sweep in the teams’ last matchup.
So, if the Dodgers can win out against the non-playoff teams (San Diego can always steal a game, and San Francisco will give them tough games, despite their poor season), they’d only have room to lose seven games combined among the 16 they play against Arizona, Colorado and Washington.
Basically, if the Dodgers lose one game per series against the potential playoff teams, they’re in a great position. But that also means they can drop only three of 16 games against the bottom-feeders on the schedule. Going 13-3 against the Giants, Phillies and Padres almost seems more likely than going 11-5 against the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Nationals.
It has been a magical season in L.A. It won’t be an easy task, but there is a realistic — albeit difficult — road to 116 or 117 wins. If anyone can do it, it’s the team that has swept away the competition at a blistering rate all season long.