The Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4 (box score), and with the win the Dodgers clinched a spot in the 2021 postseason. 

The Dodgers' playoff assurances come one night after the rival San Francisco Giants became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. The Dodgers and Giants have never met in the postseason, but this year could change that. The runner-up in the NL West will go in as the the heavy favorite in the wild card game, and the winner of that game will advance to face the top seed in the NL, which will likely be the NL West champ. 

Speaking of the NL West race, the Dodgers at 93-53 trail the Giants, winners of nine in a row, by 2 1/2 games. The stakes are high, as each juggernaut would very much prefer to avoid the hazards of a one-and-done wild card game. If the Dodgers are able to catch and pass the Giants, then they'll win their ninth straight division title. Either way, their nine consecutive trips to the postseason is a franchise record. 

Regardless of how the division race plays out, the Dodgers will be in the postseason and thus have a shot at defending their World Series title. The 1999-2000 Yankees were the last team to repeat as World Series champions. No NL team has repeated as champions since the 1975-76 Reds. 

By any measure other than the current NL West standings, the Dodgers' 2021 season thus far has been a tremendous success. At this writing, they're on pace for 103 wins, which would be the fifth-highest season win total in Dodger history. Also, they right now own the best run differential (plus-242) in all of baseball by a substantial margin. 

The trade deadline additions of ace right-hander Max Scherzer and five-tool infielder Trea Turner mean that the Dodgers are stronger than ever as October approaches. The recent return of stalwart left-hander Clayton Kershaw from elbow injury means the potential playoff rotation will be a formidable one -- assuming, of course, the mighty Dodgers are able to avoid or survive the wild card game. The surest path toward a repeat begins with winning the division. 

Even though the Dodgers are no doubt pleased to have clinched a postseason berth as early as mid-September, Dave Roberts and his charges know that the greater goals have yet to be reached.