MLB Rest vs. Rust – Is The A Correlation For The Dodgers In The Playoffs?

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dodgers clinch

The Los Angeles Dodgers wrap up a historic regular season on Wednesday night, going for their franchise-record 111th win to close out their schedule.

After that, the focus then shifts towards the postseason where the Dodgers will look to cap off the year with a World Series championship, which has always been the goal for this organization that has now made the playoffs in 10 straight years.

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A big topic of conversation around this time of year is whether or not it’s better to be hot going into the playoffs and continue playing, or if it’s better to be fully rested and healthy.

New playoff format

MLB has adopted a new playoff format this year, which makes the above question even more prevalent.

Under this format, six teams from each league make the postseason with the top two getting a bye. There is now a three-game Wild Card series for the other four teams as opposed to just one winner-take-all Wild Card game.

The Dodgers, of course, have earned a bye as the top seed in the National League, as did the Atlanta Braves, who fought all the way back to surpass the New York Mets and win the NL East.

But with that bye comes a lot of time off as the Dodgers close out the regular season on Wednesday and then will not start the NLDS until the following Tuesday.

So with that being the case, let’s examine if there is a correlation in MLB when it comes to how teams do with more time off.

Dodgers Rest vs. Rust

Before looking at some historical context, let’s just look at the Dodgers and how this specific group has fared in recent years going into the postseason.

In 2017, 2019 and 2020, the Dodgers clinched their division early and had time off going into the postseason (the time varied from 2-4 days). All three years, they came out and won Game 1 of the NLDS. In 2017 and 2020, they swept their first series en route to making the World Series (winning it in 2020 and beating cheated out of it in 2017). In 2019, they wound up losing to the Washington Nationals in five games in the NLDS.

In 2018 and 2021, the Dodgers were fighting for their division until the very last day of the season and in the latter year, they even had to play in the Wild Card game. While neither of these years resulted in the Dodgers losing in the NLDS, it was clear in the later rounds that having to play all the way through the regular and postseason with no rest took its toll on the team.

So when looking at this specific Dodgers group, it seems that having some time off before the NLDS is a huge benefit. When considering that L.A. is also currently working to get some key players back from injury, that extra week off should certainly help with that as well.

Historical context

According to a study from Sports Insights, from 2004-2013, there were 106 MLB playoff games played by teams with two or more rest days. And in those 106 games, the teams with more rest went 55-51. When that goes to four or more rest days, teams were 11-9.

So if that tells us anything then there really is no specific correlation when it comes to teams with more rest going into the playoffs.

In the specific case of the Dodgers though, they have clearly benefitted from it in recent years and should again this year as they get ready to watch the Mets and San Diego Padres in the Wild Card series before taking on the winner in the NLDS.