The Dodgers have clinched their division, and now are just working on preparing for the postseason. The most important thing they can do now, is get and stay healthy.
The good news is that the Dodgers have a couple key players returning in the next few days. On Thursday, starting pitcher Rich Hill will return to the mound. The veteran left hander hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 19, when he went on the Injured List with a left forearm strain. The team designated Jaime Schultz for assignment in the corresponding move.
Hill is scheduled to pitch two innings in the first of four scheduled starts before the postseason. Whether or not Hill can regain form to be a starting pitcher in the postseason remains to be seen. The Dodgers could go with a three-man rotation in the five game NLDS, or better yet sweep their first round opponent. That would leave time for Hill to work up to being able to go further into a game in the next two series. The Dodgers do however have the depth to have Hill piggy back with another long reliever like Julio Urias, Ross Stripling or Dustin May, depending on which pitchers make the postseason roster.
The other piece of good news is that Max Muncy will be flying to New York tonight to join the team, and be activated to play tomorrow. Muncy was hit on the wrist by a pitch on August 28th, and has been rehabbing in Arizona.
“He has been hitting live pitching, as I heard, he had three homers today” Manager Dave Roberts told SportsNetLA. “So I don’t know how many at-bats he took, but that’s obviously a good sign. Looking forward to getting him back”.
The still kinda stagnant offense could use a jump start, especially against a team in the Mets that is on a roll, and will feature their best pitchers including Jacob deGrom.
On the other side, Justin Turner was scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday to see if there indeed was anything wrong with his left ankle. He had previously had an X-ray on it that was inconclusive. He’s missed three games out of the utmost precaution. Turner is not in tonight’s lineup. The MRI revealed a mild strain, but Roberts has not yet ruled out a return in New York this weekend.
There still is no timetable for the return of outfielder Alex Verdugo. He has been on the IL since August, first with an oblique strain, and then with a back injury sustained on a rehab assignment. He has been shut down as his injury is not progressing towards healing as the Dodgers would like. It now seems unlikely that Verdugo would be back in time for the NLDS, which starts three weeks from today.
In other news, Kenley Jansen was named the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. This award annually recognizes one player from each club that best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions both on and off the field. He will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony on the field on September 18th, which is also the 18th annual Roberto Clemente Day.
The Dodgers look to take the series from the Baltimore Orioles this evening. Rich Hill will take the mound for the Dodgers, and Dylan Bundy will go for the Orioles. Game time will be 4:15 PDT.