The NL West race gears up for a photo finish

Justin White, Reporter

As the weather cools down and the MLB season nears its final month, the NL West race is only heating up. With baseball’s two best teams in the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, the NL West is seeing its closest race since 2010, when the Giants narrowly beat out the Padres by two games. After the trade deadline, the race has only gotten more intense, with the Dodgers and Giants seemingly never losing, as San Francisco attempts to keep its 2.5 game lead over Los Angeles heading into September.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. As winners of last year’s World Series, the last eight NL West titles, and the bidding war to acquire All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer, the Dodgers have learned what that phrase truly means this season. The Dodgers, who were the favorite to win the World Series once again this year, have faced injury after injury and setback after setback, and see themselves behind their arch-rival Giants in the NL West standings. That being said, the Dodgers are 7-3 in their last 10, and despite the injuries and setbacks they’ve faced all season long, are still within striking distance of San Francisco. With the return of star outfielder Mookie Betts, World Series MVP Corey Seager, and the acquisition of SS/2B Trea Turner, the Dodgers have an incredibly dangerous roster, one that will become even more so with the looming return of All-Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw. However, an unexpected opponent stands in their way of a ninth straight NL West title.

The San Francisco Giants were not supposed to be here. They were expected to be a middle of the road team that fell apart after the All-Star break and finished around 70 wins. Instead, they see themselves as the Dodgers’ biggest threat to their dream of repeating as champions. After failing to acquire Max Scherzer at the deadline, many thought the Giants would simply wither away and let the Dodgers ease into the postseason as they have for eight years. However, San Francisco has simply refused to lose whenever the Dodgers win, and bolstered their roster by acquiring outfielder Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs, and have kept a stranglehold on their 2.5-game lead in the NL West. They may lack the big names that their rivals have, but what they lack in star power, they make up for in team chemistry, with each player not letting any moment get too big as they steamroll through just about every team they face. This chemistry gives them the ability to beat any team in any given series, making them an extremely dangerous challenger for the Dodgers.

With the season nearing a close, the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is the most intense it’s been in years, and looks to be heading to a thrilling finish coming into September. The Dodgers and Giants have one last three game series in San Francisco starting on September 3, a series that will likely decide if the NL West crown is staying in Los Angeles, or if the throne finds a new home in San Francisco.