The Dodgers made the playoffs again. Who will they play?
There was little doubt the Dodgers would make the playoffs this season. They were the betting favorites to win the World Series before the season and proved quickly they were the class of the National League West.
But who will they play now that they’ve won the division for the ninth time in 10 years? That remains very much in doubt.
Their first opponent almost certainly will come from a group of five teams: The Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers.
Barring a massive losing stretch in their remaining 21 games, the Dodgers (a major-league best 98-43) will open the postseason on Oct. 11 at Dodger Stadium. The earliest they would know their opponent is Oct. 8.
Under the expanded playoff format instituted this season, the two division winners with the best records in each league automatically advance to the division series. The other four teams — the third division champion and three wild cards — will play a best-of-three series, with the higher seed hosting all three games.
The Dodgers currently hold the No. 1 seed in the National League, with the Mets, the leaders of the NL East, at No. 2. The Cardinals, the likely winners of the NL Central, would be the third seed and play the sixth-seeded Padres. The Braves would be the No. 4 seed and host the fifth-seeded Phillies.
The Mets and Braves are separated by half a game so they could easily swap places, as could the Padres and Phillies. The Brewers could also sneak in. The only near certainties are the Dodgers at No. 1 and the Cardinals at No. 3.
The winner of the series between the fourth and fifth seeds plays the No. 1 seed in a best-of-five division series. The winner of No. 3-No. 6 plays the No. 2 seed. The winners of those series advance to the league championship series.
Here’s how the Dodgers have done against their potential National League opponents:
Braves: The Dodgers won four of six against the 2021 World Series champions. The teams have met in the NLCS the last two seasons, each side winning once on the way to a championship.
Mets: The teams met seven times, the Mets winning four of those games.
Phillies: The Dodgers went 3-4 against the Phillies, losing three of four games at Dodger Stadium.
Padres: The Dodgers have continued their recent domination of their division rivals. They are 12-4 against San Diego, with one regular-season series remaining at the end of September.
Brewers: The teams played seven games in a 10-day period in August, the Dodgers winning four times.
Cardinals: The Dodgers won two of three games in St. Louis in July. They play three games at Dodger Stadium beginning Sept. 23.