After taking two-of-three from the Colorado Rockies in their final home series of the season the Dodgers are now down to their final six games of the regular season, and ever closer to the postseason.
The Dodgers have been doing some ‘unorthodox’ things during these final games, as we’ve previously discussed here a time or two at TBPC. Mostly, it has been the relief pitching staff that has been manipulated in a way so that they would be ready to enter a game in any situation- starter, opener, mid inning or in their regular relief role.
It is the pitching staff that remains the biggest worry among Dodger fans as they steel themselves for a possible third World Series run. All three starters allowed at least two home runs, and the pitching staff as a whole allowed eight home runs over the series. They were mostly of the garden variety solo homer, but three in a row in the case of Clayton Kershaw is a bit disconcerting to say the least.
This seems to be the way the Dodgers are lining up their starters for the postseason, Kershaw, Walker Buehler and then Hyun-Jin Ryu. With the Dodgers having home field for the NLDS, I would assume Ryu will be the number two starter, as he’s been better at home this season than on the road. Still, with all the concerns over home runs, having Walker Buehler as your number three starter is pretty impressive, and if the Washington Nationals win the Wild Card, a good candidate to take on Max Scherzer, should be be the Nats Wild Card starter.
The fourth starter, as we all know, is still up in the air, and I would garner to guess won’t be announced until the last possible moment. A lot relies on how Rich Hill does in his last two starts of the season, should he be able to make both of them. Hill last tried to pitch on September 12, but was thwarted because of pain in his knee that turned out to be scar tissue breaking up from his MCL injury he suffered earlier this year. He threw a Sim game on Friday, and will be the starter tomorrow night in San Diego. Hill is expected to go two innings, and if all goes well, start again on the final game of the season and pitch longer into the game.
Regardless if Hill regains his form, he still won’t be able to go deep into a game as he won’t have enough time to be built back up. Depending how the NLDS goes, they may not need a fourth starter. But if they do, Hill couldn’t really be expected to go more than four innings, five if he’s really doing well. There will still need to be a long reliever to back him up.
It seems that the last spot to be on the postseason pitching staff will be a battle between Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. Both could spot start, both could come in mid-game and provide some solid innings before handing it off to Jansen and company.
Between the two, Gonsolin would be my choice. While May has speed, and has shown he can work his way out of trouble, he’s still getting into trouble in the first place. Gonsolin has shown that he can handle the pressure, as his first three games were in big time cities and situations. He has almost double the innings that May has in the final month, leading me to believe the Dodgers are wont to chose him over May for the final pitching roster slot.
The Dodgers have won 100 games this season, and a good part of that is the fact the pitching staff has kept them in the game long enough for the offense to take control. They don’t have to be perfect in the playoffs, they just have to keep the Dodgers in the game. This staff is more than good enough to do that. As long as the offense doesn’t fall flat on their face, the Dodgers have an excellent shot at finally getting that long awaited ring.