The Dodgers have won four games in a row and are right in the thick of the National League West, as usual. They defeated the Cubs in an NL Championship Series rematch on Sunday to pull to within 1 1/2 games of the surprising first-place Colorado Rockies.
A good reason for their consistency and steadiness as October veterans is their relief pitching, which was stellar over the last seven days and earned them the honor of being named "MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford."
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2017 season, MLB.com is honoring the Bullpen of the Week. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Dodgers' bullpen scored a rating of 126 points by allowing only one earned run and eight hits in 24 2/3 innings of work. Relievers struck out 20 batters against five walks, and they earned two saves.
Chris Hatcher pitched in with four innings of shutout relief over two appearances, and Pedro Baez contributed three hitless innings with three strikeouts. Ross Stripling carried the heaviest load, putting up zeroes in five innings over two appearances while striking out five.
The unexpected: Unexpected? How about unheard of? On Sunday, staff ace Clayton Kershaw, otherwise known as the best pitcher on the planet, lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on 11 hits. Entering the game, the Dodgers were third in the standings behind the White Sox and Phillies for Bullpen of the Week honors. Suddenly, their relievers were forced into extended use.
How they prevailed: Manager Dave Roberts took out Kershaw and went to reliever Josh Fields, who threw 1 2/3 perfect innings, striking out two to lower his season ERA to 0.84. He was followed by Sergio Romo (2/3 of an inning of perfect ball), Adam Liberatore (1 1/3 scoreless, two strikeouts) and closer Kenley Jansen, who pitched a perfect ninth. That's 4 2/3 shutout innings of relief, if you're scoring at home, to rally for the Bullpen of the Week win.
The Dodgers came up big at the right time and vaulted past the White Sox, who finished second with a rating of 118, and the Phillies, who placed third with a rating of 107.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.