Three things the Dodgers need to adjust for October

At this point the question is when they will do it, not if the Dodgers are going to make the postseason for the 10th straight year. Los Angeles has the biggest division lead in the Majors and in about three weeks the club should break the champagne.

Thanks to the huge lead the NL West has, the Dodgers can afford to prove a few things the rest of the way. The most important thing for them is that they are playing their best baseball a few weeks into October.

But to reach the top of its potential, there are still some points to be resolved. They’re probably the best team in the majors, but there’s still room for improvement. So with that in mind, we’ll leave you with a look at three things the Dodgers need to figure out over the final six weeks of the regular season.

If you ask manager Dave Roberts, it’s not yet time to panic about Craig Kimbrel and the closer role. If checked on Twitter, fans are ready to designate Kimbrel for assignment.

The truth is somewhere in the middle of both positions.

If there’s one weakness in this entire Dodgers roster, it’s the fact that they lack another dominant reliever to pair with Evan Phillips, who has emerged as one of the best relievers in the game this season.

Having a Kimbrel at the top of his game for the most pressing situations would help the Dodgers reach another level. Nearly all World Series winners have been able to “clip” the game with several elite relievers.

The Dodgers, in short, need Kimbrel to reach that level. That’s why they brought him to Los Angeles. And that’s why they’re going to keep sending him to the mound in the ninth. Even if that results in some losses and blown saves, the Dodgers need to know exactly what to expect from Kimbrel. Those last six weeks will decide that.

If Kimbrel finds his way back — as he has said he will — the Dodgers will come into October with a much better bullpen. If he doesn’t, they’re going to have to adjust.

“With his record, he has earned the right for us to see him longer,” Roberts said. “But as we head into September, the best pitchers are going to pitch. That’s the way things have to be done and I think that’s the only right way to lead.”

2. The Cody Bellinger situation

Bellinger has shown flashes of his best years this season, but he always finds a way to pull back whenever it seems like he’s close to completing the turnaround. Just 10 days ago, Bellinger was on fire. A few days later, he was in a 15-1 rut.

That has created some frustration, prompting Roberts to sit down with Bellinger for about 30 minutes after Monday’s game, letting him know he’d be on the bench for a few days. It was not a meeting to get his attention, but for Roberts to inform him that the days off were so that he could start from scratch again.

But the move, however, was enough for many to start wondering what Bellinger’s role will be down the stretch. The 2019 NL MVP is not hitting consistently. And he hasn’t hit lefties all year. But his Gold Glove defense in center field will make it difficult to bench him in October.

Not in Bellinger’s category, Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor have shown they have the tools to defend center field well.

The Dodgers were hoping for a turnaround from Bellinger this year. No such thing has happened. They’ll have a few more weeks to find the formula or the Dodgers are going to have to take another route when they have to face the best pitching they see in October.

3. Who will get healthy?

Well, we already know that Walker Buehler won’t be pitching anymore this season. Danny Duffy is also an unknown. And we also know that Dustin May, who started Saturday, is finally back, giving the Dodgers a big boost.

Now the Dodgers have to wait for Clayton Kershaw, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Tommy Kahnle, Víctor González and Yency Almonte. Of the group, Graterol is the one closest to returning. Kershaw also took a big step Friday, throwing from a mound for the first time since he went on the disabled list.

Gonzalez pitched a scoreless inning at Triple-A Oklahoma this week. There are more doubts about Kahnle’s recovery. And Treinen, who is also at Triple-A, is targeting Sept. 2 as his return date.

It will be interesting to see who rejoins the Dodgers. It will also be interesting to see who can help in October.

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Three things the Dodgers need to adjust for October