The Dodgers won on Sunday, pushing their record to 17-12 on the season. That's a 162-game pace of 95 wins. They are in playoff position and, given the injuries they've been dealing with on the pitching side, there's very little reason, big picture, to be concerned about a World Series hangover costing this team the playoffs or anything.
Sequencing can be funny.
The Dodgers started the season 13-2 and looked every bit like a historically-good team at the time. The offense was great, the rotation was both elite and deep and the bullpen had so many late-inning options it was getting scary. Their only losses were a funky opening-day bout in Coors Field and an extra-innings loss to the A's.
At that point, it was reasonable to start thinking big. Huge, in fact. No, not based solely upon the record. We know teams get hot during the course of 162 games. This team was already projected by every reputable outlet to win well more than 100 games. The gambling total (also known as the "over/under") was 103.5 and I took the over. A team this talented and deep playing without the pressure of needing that elusive World Series title? C'mon, that's a great bet.
After they spotted themselves that 13-2 start, that meant we could lay our eyes on the record. That is, the 2001 Mariners' single-season 116-win record. After all, the Mariners didn't win their 13th game until they had four losses.
Let's say the Dodgers are a true-talent 105-win team. That's a .648 winning percentage. After the 13-2 start, if they played .648 ball the rest of the way, the Dodgers would end up going 108-54 this season. Could they overplay that projection by eight games to tie the record or nine games to break it? To be clear, a 116-46 record is absolutely stupid. The chances were always remote. It's just that after the 13-2 start with a team this talented, the chances of getting in the ballpark of the record seemed decently above zero percent. Maybe something like a five percent chance, but it was enough to start thinking about it.
Since then, though, the Dodgers have torpedoed those chances with a bad stretch.
Before Sunday's laugher in Milwaukee, the Dodgers had lost 10 of 13 games. The 2001 Mariners' worst stretch was losing seven out of 11 from June 17-28. To reiterate the big picture sentiment, the 2021 Dodgers are perfectly fine and still very likely to win the NL West. They will look like the best team in baseball again soon enough. It's just that the math for a historically-great season isn't on their side now.
Again, using the baseline of the Dodgers being a true talent 105 wins -- and that is probably a tad aggressive -- the Dodgers would finish 103-59 if they play at that level from here on out. Can they really overplay that ceiling by 13 games? I'm dubious on that. Let's put it this way: In order for the Dodgers to get to 116 wins, they'd have to go 99-34 the rest of the way. That's a .744 winning percentage, which is a 162-game pace of 121 wins. They are a great team, but they aren't 121-win-pace-for-five-months great.
The 2021 Dodgers are going to be just fine. They'll make the playoffs. They'll probably make a deep playoff run and they might even repeat as champions. Losing 10 of 13 didn't change any of that. One thing it did do, absent something like a 25-game winning streak, is take the wins record off the table.