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Oakland A’s Series Preview #18: Dodgers host mostly meaningless series between title contenders

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Tune-up between West heavyweights, but with little to play for

MLB: AUG 12 Padres at Dodgers
Treinen is back!
Photo by Kyusung Gong/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have a 33-20 record, which is the fifth-best mark in the entire majors. Now they’ll face off against one of the only teams doing even better this summer, the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • 2020 record: 38-16

Despite having the best record in the sport, the Dodgers still haven’t quite clinched the NL West division yet, because the runner-up San Diego Padres have the second-best record in the NL. Even still, L.A. has a magic number of two to clinch, with six yet to play, so it’s just a formality at this point. The Dodgers will be division champs and will also be the No. 1 seed in the NL.

Meanwhile, the A’s have already clinched the AL West, and the only question left is what seed they’ll be in the AL playoffs. Right now they’re No. 3, but they’re within one loss of the No. 1 seed Tampa Bay Rays, so anything can happen in terms of ordering over this final week.

In other words, this A’s/Dodgers series is almost meaningless. There’s nothing for either side to actively play for that hasn’t already been accomplished or at least passed the point of inevitability. However, these results could still affect the A’s seeding, so they could mean something, specifically whether Oakland plays the Astros or someone else in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

As for the Dodgers team itself, the names are mostly familiar from their last several years as a juggernaut, plus a few of their prospects have panned out. They revived former A’s All-Star closer Blake Treinen and he’s doing alright as a setup man, and they also turned Jake McGee back into a dominant reliever.

Projected lineup

This is Tuesday’s lineup for the opener, with 3B Justin Turner a late scratch.

  • RF Mookie Betts (R)
  • SS Corey Seager (L)
  • 1B Max Muncy (L)
  • CF Cody Bellinger (L)
  • C Will Smith (R)
  • 2B Chris Taylor (R)
  • DH Joc Pederson (L)
  • LF A.J. Pollock (R)
  • 3B Edwin Rios (L)

Normally you’ll see Justin Turner in there, but the third baseman recently returned from a hamstring injury and the team is giving him an extra day off rather than pushing him in a meaningless game. Presumably we could see him later in this series. Otherwise, over half the lineup have been All-Stars before, and two of them are former MVPs.

Starting pitchers

These are the three expected starters:

  • Fri: Dustin May (R) vs. Frankie Montas (6:30 p.m.)
  • Sat: Julio Urias (L) vs. Sean Manaea (6:40 p.m.)
  • Sun: Walker Buehler (R) vs. Mike Fiers (6:40 p.m.)

Fortunately, the A’s miss Clayton Kershaw. But still, all three of these hurlers have ERAs under 4.00, though May and Buehler don’t have the FIPs to match (closer to 5.00). Buehler is currently on the injured list with a blister but is scheduled to return for a tune-up start before the postseason.

Bench/Bullpen

Here’s the Dodgers’ full 28-man roster:

L.A. Dodgers 28-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Clayton Kershaw (L)
Tony Gonsolin (R)
Dustin May (R)
Julio Urias (L)

Relievers

Kenley Jansen (R)
Pedro Baez (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Brusday Graterol (R)
Victor Gonzalez (L)
Joe Kelly (R)
Jake McGee (L)
Dylan Floro (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)
Mitchell White (R)
Alex Wood (L)
Catchers

Will Smith (R)
Austin Barnes (R)

Infielders

Max Muncy (L)
Chris Taylor (R)
Corey Seager (L)
Justin Turner (R)
Gavin Luz (L)
Edwin Rios (L)

Outfielders

Cody Bellinger (L)
Mookie Betts (R)
Joc Pederson (L)
A.J. Pollock (R)
Enrique Hernandez (R)

10-day IL: RHP Walker Buehler (blister), LHP Caleb Ferguson (TJS)

45-day IL: RHP Jimmy Nelson (back)

Opt out: LHP David Price