For all the talk about the Washington Nationals and their disappointing season thus far, there's another highly touted National League team that's also in danger of missing the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have dropped the first five games of what's been an ugly road trip so far. They still lead the NL West by 1 1/2 games over San Francisco, but the wild card is looking less and less like a viable backup plan if the Dodgers don't win the division.
Los Angeles has had an unusual schedule lately, with off days last Monday and Thursday bookending a two-game set at Oakland. The Dodgers are also off this Monday before wrapping up their trip with three games at Cincinnati.
"We have this strange schedule right now," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said during the series at Oakland. "Start and go, start and go. In September, you don't want that. You want to start running downhill."
Scheduling is one aspect of baseball administration that's a lot more complicated than it looks. The collective bargaining agreement covers all sorts of scheduling issues, like doubleheaders, off days and what time games should start.
Beginning with its second game of the season, teams are not supposed to be scheduled more than two open days in any seven-day period. The Dodgers will have had three in eight.
Off days can help a team with struggling pitchers. Mat Latos allowed 10 earned runs over his most recent two starts, and Los Angeles skipped him this past week.
On the flip side, closer Kenley Jansen had not pitched in a week when he entered Sunday's game in the ninth inning with a one-run lead. He allowed the Astros to tie it with two outs, and Houston eventually won 3-2 in 10.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
Hector Olivera's arrival in the majors appears imminent. Olivera has been slowed by a left hamstring injury, but he's expected to be the third baseman for the Atlanta Braves once he's called up.
Olivera signed a $62.5 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers this year, but the Cuban infielder was traded to the Braves last month.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Mike Fiers of Houston gets the nod for his no-hitter against the Dodgers on Friday, in which he threw 134 pitches, the most by any major leaguer this year. But Yoenis Cespedes gets an honorable mention for his three-homer, seven-RBI show for the Mets on that same night.