Leader Watch: D-backs prove worth vs. Dodgers

Arizona becomes first team to sweep LA in 2017

Leader Watch: D-backs prove worth vs. Dodgers

There's a first time for everything, and the D-backs have to be proud of this one: They made a statement Thursday when they became the first team to sweep the Dodgers this season.

Arizona closed out August by taking three straight from its National League West rival this week, capping the sweep with Thursday's 8-1 win. Ace Zack Greinke led the way, becoming the first pitcher in the Majors to 16 wins.

The D-backs lead the National League Wild Card race, and their record now sits at 76-58. They're 3 1/2 games up on the Rockies, who hold the second NL Wild Card slot, and six up on the Brewers, the next closest contender.

But despite being a playoff contender all year, with a talented roster that has played to its capabilities, the D-backs have been left behind in the West -- through no fault of their own -- by the juggernaut Dodgers, who are 50 games over .500 at 91-41. With the regular season about to enter its final month, the job the D-backs did in sweeping Los Angeles spoke volumes.

The D-backs' play proved they can compete with baseball's elite. They haven't always been at their best against other top teams this year.

Among the teams currently in position to make the postseason -- the Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, D-backs, Rockies, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Yankees and Twins -- the D-backs had the worst record against opponents who are .500 or better (they were just 29-36 against those teams prior to the sweep vs. the Dodgers).

By contrast, the Indians have the Majors' best record against .500-plus teams, going 37-23. The Dodgers are close behind at 40-27, even after their sweep at Arizona's hands. In fact, the seven teams that have won at least half their games against .500 or better opponents would all be in the playoffs if the regular season ended today.

The D-backs still rank in the top half of MLB against .500 or better teams, but they haven't been on the same level as other contenders. They've feasted on teams with winning percentages below .500, going 44-22 against such teams, the second-best mark in the Majors (behind the Dodgers, who are 51-14 against sub-.500 teams). But come October, the only teams left are the cream of the crop.

The D-backs are now three wins better against those top teams. In the postseason push, with every game more important than the last, they're showing they can run with the rest of the best.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.