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MLB Los Angeles DodgersMLB Playoffs

Top 5 NL Teams The Los Angeles Dodgers Do Not Want To Face In Playoffs

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Top 5 NL Teams The Los Angeles Dodgers Do Not Want To Face In Playoffs

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With less than 40 games remaining in the MLB season, the highly anticipated postseason is just around the corner. The Los Angeles Dodgers have clearly been the hottest team in baseball recently and have seemed unstoppable by just about any team. Alas, there are a few formidable National League opponents the Dodgers would rather not face come October.

Barring an unexpected and nearly impossible late-season surge from the Washington Nationals, the Atlanta Braves have the NL East Division locked up. With a 16 game lead over the Nationals, the Braves are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and Washington will need a huge push to the end and a collapse by one or more of the other Wild Card contenders.

The NL Central Division is up for grabs by any of three very good teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. Each of these three teams all have over 70 wins on the season and first place (the Pirates) is separated from third (the Reds) by only 3.5 games. No matter which of these teams wins the division, there will likely be at least two NL Central teams licking their chops at a chance to knock the Dodgers off their pedestal.

Finally, the NL West race is not decided as the Arizona Diamondbacks currently sit 7.5 games behind the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks are by no means out of either the division race or the Wild Card race.

Although crazier things have happened, the division and Wild Card spots will most likely end up being claimed by one of the aforementioned teams. As such, it is time to sort them out and see which team the Dodgers would least like to face in the postseason and why.

Isaac Comelli is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Follow him on Twitter @IsaacComelli, “Like” him on Facebook or follow him on Google.

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5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

You might be surprised to see the Pirates this low on the list of teams the Dodgers do not want to face. If it were any other team in question, you might be right as the Pirates have been great all season long and boast a two game lead in the best division in baseball. Nevertheless, the Pirates have historically struggled against the Dodgers.

Over the last 10 years, the Dodgers lead the series against the Bucs 52-21 (.708). More locally, the Dodgers have won more often over the past three seasons with a record of 16-5 (.762). Even this season, easily the Pirates’ best in the last 20 years, the Dodgers have won four out of six games. As good as the Pirates may be, the Dodgers may just have their number.

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4. Cincinnati Reds

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

This season, the Dodgers have won three out of four games against the Reds, but they have struggled against the team in the past. Over the last ten years, the Reds have the fifth best record against the Dodgers among all MLB teams. In that span, Cincinnati has won almost 65 percent of the matchups and continues to give the Dodgers trouble. Nevertheless, there are some other teams with a more complete squad who make the Blue Crew more nervous.

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3. St. Louis Cardinals

Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

I was extremely tempted to boost the Cardinals to the top of this list, but in the end, the statistics just do not justify it. As the leading Wild Card team, the Cards have a strong chance of making the playoffs and, if they do, could wreak havoc on the Dodgers and many other teams. Over the past ten years, St. Louis has a pretty bad record against the Dodgers at 28-43 (.394) but has won 56 percent of their matchups in the last three years. With a slight edge over the Cardinals this year, this series would just about be a toss-up in the playoffs.

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2. Arizona Diamondbacks

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

If the Dodgers were to face the Diamondbacks in the playoffs, it would mean Arizona went on a hot streak and, in that case, no one will want to face them. With powerful pitching from Patrick Corbin and Paul Goldschmidt's blasting bat, the Diamondbacks can be as good as any NL team while hot. If both Arizona and the Dodgers make the playoffs, the Boys in Blue will be nervous about their divisional foes.

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1. Atlanta Braves

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Come October, the Atlanta Braves are the last team the Dodgers want to see. The Braves have the best record in baseball and have had the Dodgers’ number this year, winning five out of seven games. Over the past several years, the Braves and Dodgers have been hovering right around even, but Atlanta is one of the most complete and consistent teams in either league. No one, not even the Dodgers, will be overly confident to get up in the morning and say “I’m glad we are playing the Braves in a win or go home series.”

That does it for my list. I would love to hear your thoughts about teams you think the Dodgers should be more or less worried about!