Not only does the NL West have the two best teams in baseball this season, but the NL West race in 2021 is turning into the most compelling race in September.
After the Giants took two out of three games from the Dodgers over the weekend, San Francisco took a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the NL West standings. The two won’t meet head-to-head the rest of the season while the Giants’ remaining schedule is similar to the Dodgers’ remaining schedule in difficulty, setting up a compelling race to the division crown.
However, it’ll be the Giants who look poised to win the NL West in 2021.
NL West race 2021: Why the Giants will finish atop the divi
If it’s any consolation, both the Giants and Dodgers are a virtual lock for the postseason. It would take an epic collapse by either team not to at least earn a Wild Card spot.
However, the winner of the NL West will likely have home-field advantage in the playoffs while the loser will face a one-game Wild Card battle against another National League foe. Therefore, both the Giants and Dodgers will feel an incentive to win the NL West race in 2021. But here is why the Giants will prevail and snap the Dodgers’ run of eight straight NL West crowns.
The Dodgers were supposed to have the deepest rotation in baseball heading into the season, but down the stretch, it’ll be the Giants who have the deeper rotation.
Giants walk it off… Buster Posey looked to have grounded out but Will Smith comes off first base. pic.twitter.com/22AoxJslM0
— Justin Groc (@justgroc) September 4, 2021
Los Angeles doesn’t have Clayton Kershaw right now, so even with Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer, and Julio Urias at the top of the rotation, the back end of the LA rotation remains questionable. Even with Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood recently going on the IL, the Giants have been able to rely on Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, and Anthony DeSclafani all season.
Both should be back at some point and in the meantime, San Francisco has the bullpen depth to get by and have a chance to win every game. This is something the Dodgers could struggle to do with David Price and others filling out the back end of their rotation.
More depth beats better depth
From top to bottom, the Dodgers have one of the deepest lineups in baseball. But in terms of depth coming off the bench, the Giants have the edge.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 6, 2021
Specifically, San Francisco can tailor its lineup based on whether the Giants are facing a right-handed starter or a left-handed starter. They can swap out nearly half of their lineup, playing their matchup to get the best lineup on the field on any given day. This is almost a postseason approach in which they are taking no game for granted, and it’s why they are a threat to win every game they play.
Overperformers vs Underperformers
It’s easy to say that many of San Francisco’s hitters have over-performed this year and are due to cool down at some point.
More importantly, they are all former champions who understand how to play during a pennant race in September. Meanwhile, the Dodgers continue to be plagued by underperforming superstars. Cody Bellinger has had a dreadful season while Mookie Betts has failed to live up to his career averages.
In other words, the Dodgers aren’t getting star performances from their stars, which is why the Giants are more likely to prevail in September.