The San Francisco Giants finished the regular season with 107 wins, while the Los Angeles Dodgers put up 106 victories of their own. But all that success will come to an early end for one of them, as the MLB playoff structure has pitted the two powerhouse teams from California against each other in the NLDS.
The Giants outpaced the Dodgers by just one game in the NL West race, relegating Los Angeles to the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
Giants, Dodgers finally meet in modern playoff series
Los Angeles survived that one-game playoff, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 on a walk-off home run by Chris Taylor. That set up a showdown that nearly every baseball fan wanted to see this postseason – just maybe not this soon.
“This may also be a series or a moment where baseball may have to think about restructuring when playoffs happen,” Giants infielder Evan Longoria told reporters. “106 and 107 wins doesn’t feel like a DS matchup, especially because the season is so long. For two teams to win that many games and [one has] to go home this early. That being said, we knew we were going to have to go through them and they were going to have to go through us to get to the World Series.”
The early meeting means that baseball fans will only get a best-of-five series between the Giants and the Dodgers, rather than a potential best-of-seven series in the NLCS. That’s still the longest postseason series between the two teams in quite some time.
It has been widely reported that this is the first playoff matchup between the two franchises, but that’s not exactly the case. In both 1951 and 1962, the Giants and the Dodgers played a three-game series after tying for the National League pennant at the end of the year, though those technically counted as regular season games. Going further back, the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Bridegrooms – who would become the Dodgers – six games to three in the 1889 World Series, though that happened before what MLB now considers the modern era of baseball.
Buehler faces Webb in Game 1
Regardless, it has been a long time since these two rivals have faced off in the playoffs. The Dodgers will throw Walker Buehler (16-4, 2.47 ERA) in Game 1 on Friday in San Francisco, while the Giants counter with Logan Webb (11-3, 3.03 ERA).
Buehler went 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA over six starts against San Francisco this year, which may be way FanDuel Sportsbook has posted the Dodgers as a slight -118 favorite in Game 1. But Buehler isn’t convinced that’s an advantage, especially as the Giants scored six runs in three innings against him the last time they faced off.
“It’s kind of two-fold, right?” Buehler told reporters. “They know me and we know them. So not going to talk too much about it, but [we’ll] obviously look and see what we can change. The last one against them wasn’t great, but felt good about the ones before that.”
The Dodgers currently stand as the favorites to win the World Series, but the Giants could easily take that mantle if they get past Los Angeles in the NLDS. FanDuel rates the Dodgers as a -152 favorite over San Francisco (+130) in the series.