It doesn’t matter if you’re a Dodgers fan, a Giants fan, or a fan of the other 28 teams in baseball. If you haven’t already, take a moment to sit back and realize we are witnessing an epic period in the history of one of the greatest sports rivalries.
The Dodgers and Giants rivalry originated in New York back in the early 1900’s; when the Dodgers elected to move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, the Giants decided to move to the Bay Area. The rivalry, which was already present in New York, took a new level of meaning to all parties involved from coast to coast.
Fast forward to 2021, the Dodgers and Giants have both won seven World Series championships. This year, both teams have an argument for being crowned champs once again. The Dodgers, coming off their 2020 title in the shortened 60-game season, are looking to repeat as champs, something that hasn’t been done since the Yankees won it all in back-to-back-to-back years from 1998-2000. The Giants on the other hand are playing in an odd year. Maybe that’s just how they like it in the 2020’s. After winning three titles in the 2010’s during 2010, 2012, and 2014, San Francisco is looking to return to the postseason as the first-place team in the NL West.
While the season series is over, with the Giants securing two out of the final three regular season games, the scoreboard watching between the two squads is something that is unique for these two fanbases in recent season. The Dodgers and Giants last made the playoffs at the same time in 2016. The Giants were eliminated that year by the Cubs in the NLDS. The Dodgers would follow by being eliminated by the Cubs in the NLCS, leading Chicago to the World Series where they would defeat the Indians. However, this duo of rivals in 2021 is much different than the two squads that were eventual prey of the Cubs. Both teams have made significant strides in the right direction toward becoming the first two clubs to clinch playoff spots in baseball.
When you talk about star power, there is a ton involved between these two teams. Future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Albert Pujols have donned the Dodger Blue this season. Trea Turner may very well win the batting title while wearing a uniform that doesn’t have a “curly W” on it. Former MVP Kris Bryant has quickly become a reliable piece within the heart of the Giants lineup. Former Dodgers Jake McGee, Alex Wood, Tony Watson, and Darin Ruf would love nothing more than to show their former club the value they still offer moving forward.
These two teams have played in several insane contests this season. From walk-off homers, incredible defensive plays, questionable check swings, and unexpected offensive outbursts against Cy Young candidates, the games have had everything. The Giants won the regular season series 10-9. The Dodgers have outscored the Giants 80-78. There is virtually no separation between these two teams with surface-level numbers.
Offensively, the Giants are actually outhitting the Dodgers in 2021, posting .007 better in the average category and .019 better in OPS. The teams are dead even with a .328 on-base percentage. As for pitching, the Dodgers rank at the top of baseball with a team ERA of 2.94. In second? The Giants with a 3.24 team ERA. The Dodgers as a team have posted a WHIP .04 better than the Giants. The differences in numbers is razor thin and shows just how close these teams are.
So, what’s next for the two squads? Well, one of these teams inevitably will be a Wild Card representative and the other will go on to win the NL West. There are several scenarios that these teams will go through that could either pit them in the NLDS or NLCS. They also may not face each other again. Below are those scenarios ranked from most likely to least likely.
Giants win division, Dodgers win Wild Card game, both teams face off in NLDS
The Giants are in first place as we speak and don’t know how to lose. The Dodgers have been playing great baseball, however, winning on the days the Giants lose seems to be something near impossible for the organization to pull off. The Giants have the best record in baseball and have been the best team in baseball this season. Don’t be surprised to see them finish what they started with the Dodgers playing in the elimination game. Also, don’t be surprised when the Dodgers win that elimination game behind Max Scherzer and/or Walker Buehler and face off with the Giants for one epic NLDS.
Dodgers win division, Giants win Wild Card game, both teams face off in NLDS
The Dodgers still have an opportunity to catch the Giants despite the fact San Francisco has played near-perfect baseball down the stretch. The Dodgers will need to hope the Giants fall victim once again to the Braves in their upcoming weekend series and that the Padres will be able to squeeze out several wins in the final two series matchups, they have with San Francisco for LA to take over the top spot in the division. If the Giants are in the Wild Card matchup, it would not shock me if Logan Webb is the guy they turn to instead of Kevin Gausman in order to send San Francisco to the NLDS.
Giants/Dodgers win division, Dodgers/Giants lose Wild Card game, teams do not meet in playoffs
Both teams are built for October, however, crazy things can happen in a one-game elimination matchup. If either of these teams runs into a hot Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, or even Padres lineup with Adam Wainwright, Zack Wheeler, Luis Castillo, or Blake Snell dealing on the hill, it could be a one-and-done for the second-best regular season team in 2021.
Giants/Dodgers win division, Dodgers/Giants win Wild Card game, Brewers have best overall record, both teams win and meet in NLCS
The Brewers quietly have put together a .600 baseball team. The Brew Crew does not have a particularly easy schedule down the stretch. The Chicago Cubs will be a must-win series if the Brewers want to secure the top overall seed in the National League. It’s hard to see this happening, however, they are certainly knocking on the door for the best record in baseball. If the do secure the top seed, one of the Giants and Dodgers would go head-to-head with Milwaukee in what would be a brutal NLDS (facing Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta in a best-of-five is a no thank you for me).
Giants/Dodgers win division, Dodgers/Giants win Wild Card game, Brewers have a better record, one/both teams are eliminated in the first round and do not meet
It feels very unlikely that the Giants and Dodgers would not face off in the playoffs. However, if the Brewers secure the best record in the National League, one will have to assume the Giants and Dodgers both falter somewhere down the final stretch run. If either team is cold heading into the playoffs, facing a hot Brewers team and a top offense in the Atlanta Braves could be a huge problem for both squads. If the Giants faced the Brewers in a best-of-five series, I think I would give the edge to the Brewers simply because their pitching is better across the board. If the Giants face the Braves, that could be a potential trap series as San Francisco dropped their series in Atlanta earlier this year. If the Dodgers face the Braves, expect Atlanta to seek revenge for the 2020 NLCS. If the Dodgers face the Brewers, we might have a dream pitching series (Buehler vs. Burnes, Scherzer vs. Woodruff, Kershaw vs. Peralta, Urias vs. Houser).
Padres win the NL West
Okay, I’ll admit this is an obvious jab at the Padres. They thought they were a World Series caliber team to start the year. Now, they are just a complete mess that somehow is handing away every possible opportunity to snag the second Wild Card spot. Whether it is the Giants or Dodgers in the Wild Card game, expect them to look at the other dugout and smile if it is the Padres that manage to snag the second Wild Card. These two squads are far and away the better teams and should have little to no issues with putting away the Padres.
No matter which of the scenarios above actually happens, expect the next two months to be a wild ride for both the San Francisco and Los Angeles fanbases. Things have never been more interesting between these two squads in recent memory and all we should do is sit back and enjoy the ride for one of the greatest rivalries sports has to offer.