Worrying about the Dodgers

OK, so it's a little odd that the Dodgers just can't seem to clinch their (inevitable) division title. And it's a little strange that they were one-hit by a trio of Padres Tuesday night. Still, the Dodgers have clinched a postseason berth, and they still have all the talent that got them there. What to write about, then?
Fortunately for Bill Plaschke, Mark Loretta scissor-tripped Everth Cabrera at third base, which gives Plaschke an opening for an inspired bit of hand-wringing:

    Not that the Dodgers aren't starting to get a wee bit desperate, but confronted with another clinch situation Wednesday night, they changed sports.
    Baseball wasn't working, so they tried wrestling.

    Failing to show any fight at the plate or on the mound, they did so in the dirt, and did it work?

    Hulk no.

    They were left with a dusty Mark Loretta, a disgusting line score, and once again, that black magic number "one" that has been haunting for nearly a week.

    One more win or Colorado Rockies loss from clinching a National League West title.

    One step from losing their minds.


    Another Dodgers poor start also happened, this time Garland giving up four earned runs in less than four innings, probably pitching his way out of a postseason rotation that is getting shorter and shorter.

    Wolf, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and pray for bullpen reign.

    The rotation, the biggest postseason question mark, will be written in bold if the Dodgers hitters don't find themselves.

Hey, everybody's got problems. Are the Dodgers' really so serious, though? They don't have any Cy Young candidates in the rotation, but their fourth-best starter (Chad Billingsley) has a 4.03 ERA and perfectly acceptable underlying numbers. They haven't been scoring a great number of runs lately, but they're still third in the National League in scoring, and Manny Ramirez' performance this season falls almost exactly in line with the rest of his career.
Here's the bottom line. Or rather, two bottom lines:

One, the Dodgers have the best run differential in the National League, and nobody's close to them.

Two, there's little or no correlation between down-the-stretch performance and postseason success.

There aren't any guarantees. The Cardinals and the Phillies and the Rockies are all worthy competition. But the Dodgers should enter next week as favorites to reach the World Series, and there's no particular reason to worry about them.