The Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants on Saturday 2-0 for their 105th victory as Hyun-Jin Ryu fortified his Cy Young credentials with seven scoreless innings. In Sunday’s regular-season finale, they have the opportunity to surpass the franchise record for wins set by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.
On Thursday, they will commence a seventh consecutive trip to the postseason as the National League favorites in pursuit of a third consecutive pennant and their first championship since 1988. They will enjoy home-field advantage through the playoffs unless they encounter the Houston Astros in the World Series.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has overseen the last five years of the historic run since arriving in October 2014. There’s a chance, if small, that he won’t be around for a sixth.
Friedman isn’t under contract for 2020; his five-year deal expires after this season. Friedman, 42, declined to discuss his situation other than to say he would like to return. Still, something is holding up an agreement for an executive who would likely garner interest from any organization seeking a front office leader, including the Boston Red Sox.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten also declined to comment on specifics, though he emphasized he was “pretty confident” Friedman will remain with the organization.
“I love him, I think he’s done a great job, expect him to be here for a long time,” Kasten said in a phone interview. “That’s all I really can say about it.”
Manager Dave Roberts was hired by the Dodgers in November 2015 after Friedman’s first season in Los Angeles. Together, they have led the Dodgers to 415 victories between the regular season and playoffs, four National League West division titles — extending the organization’s streak to seven — and to a win short of a title in 2017.
“Everything I hear is [a new contract] is imminent, that it will get done,” Roberts said before Saturday’s game. “And, for me, that is very exciting and that would be my expectation as well. For me, there’s no better executive in the game.”
Roberts said Friedman has placed a premium on culture, on having “the right people” in a Dodgers uniform to create an atmosphere conducive to success. But winning takes talent and the Dodgers have sustained on-field success while not compromising their farm system with Friedman heading the front office of a franchise with deep pockets.
This season, the Dodgers had a homegrown talent — Cody Bellinger — blossom into the MVP front-runner and a steady stream of rookies surface to contribute. As many as five rookies could make the playoff roster.
“I would argue to say: Name an executive in his first five years in any organization that has accomplished what he’s accomplished,” Roberts said. “And we’re going to win a championship together.”
To reach that goal next month, the Dodgers will need performances like the one Ryu delivered Saturday in his final regular-season start. The left-hander held the Giants (77-84) to five hits, struck out seven and walked none. He needed just 97 pitches and clinched the ERA title, lowering his mark to 2.32.
Offensively, Max Muncy swatted his 35th home run in the sixth, joining Bellinger and Joc Pederson as the first trio of teammates to hit at least 35 home runs in a season in franchise history. Kenley Jansen danced around two baserunners in the ninth inning to strike out the side and secure his 33rd save in likely his final tuneup before the postseason.
Jansen’s reliability is one of the uncertainties surrounding the Dodgers as they approach the playoffs. Recent injuries to Justin Turner and Joe Kelly are others. But the club will enter the fray nearly a month after clinching their spot as favorites to win the National League again with perhaps their most talented roster yet under Friedman.
“Andrew is the center of it all,” Roberts said.