Dodgers Preview: 4 Players to Watch in This Week’s San Diego Series

(Photo: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

With exactly six games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Dodgers begin their final road trip of the season on Tuesday with a 4-1/2 game lead over the Braves for home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.

For those looking down the road to the World Series, Los Angeles trails the Astros by two full games and the Yankees by 1-1/2 in that particular capacity.

Over their last 10 games, the Dodgers have gone 6-4, as skipper Dave Roberts and his crew have frequently been experimenting with match-up based lineups. Specifically, some of the more creative batting orders recently have come against lefty starting pitching.

The final week of the regular season, however, is much more important than home field advantage in the postseason. There are still a few battles occurring as far as postseason roster spots go. Furthermore, there are a handful of players on the mend who will be using these final six games to work out their respective kinks before the playoffs roll around next month.

Here are four key players to watch in this week’s series against the Padres:

Rich HillRich Hill takes the mound once again on Tuesday to prove if he’s worth adding to the postseason roster. He is likely to work just once through the San Diego lineup, but if all goes well, he may line himself up for another regular season start against the Giants this weekend in San Francisco. If his outings are indeed successful, he could conceivably function as an “opener” in a prospective Game 4 playoff contest. Should his performance go south, it could be the time for him to hang up his cleats completely for the rest of the year.

Justin Turner—After missing nine consecutive games due to an ankle injury, Justin Turner saw some limited action against the Rockies last weekend, indicating that his wheel should be healthy enough to perhaps go full throttle against San Diego this week, allowing him to tune-up his swing in preparation for the playoffs.

“Ankle felt good, it was good to be back out there. The plan was to get a couple AB, get out of there and kind of build on it. Everything felt good,” Turner said at the conclusion of the Colorado series.

Roberts likely won’t play Turner every day this week, but the skipper will surely give the veteran infielder enough time to smooth out his game.

Max Muncy—All-Star infielder Max Muncy injured his quad in last Friday’s win over the Rockies and subsequently missed the entirety of both contests on Saturday and Sunday. Roberts said that Muncy was “playable,” but with Gavin Lux available to patrol the keystone, there was no rush for Muncy to return to the lineup.

Muncy typically does not need much time to re-acclimate his timing at the plate, but he should be in the starting lineup on Tuesday after being afforded three straight days of rest. Muncy’s presence in the lineup is seemingly integral to the Dodgers’ postseason success.

Kenley Jansen—Perhaps the biggest concern of all for the Dodgers is closer Kenley Jansen. While the remainder of the bullpen has been light’s out in recent contests, Jansen has been inconsistent at best. With Joe Kelly‘s health questionable at the moment, there’s really no one else in line to assume the closing role during the stretch run of the regular season. In other words, the job is Jansen’s to lose, specifically until he fails miserably.

Of course, there have been a few outings when Jansen shined, but they have been equally outweighed by the poor performances. Many feel that the Dodgers’ playoff success hinges on how far Jansen takes them. Certainly, these final six games could be potential indicators of what to expect from Kenley moving forward.

Hill faces San Diego righty Ronald Bolanos in the opener on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM Los Angeles time.


7 thoughts on “Dodgers Preview: 4 Players to Watch in This Week’s San Diego Series

  1. Those guys may be the main focus of the last week, but what I want to see is a solid week of production from the #1 weapon in the armory, Cody Bellinger. 4 or 5 multi hit games would be a nice walk in to the playoffs. Some power and definitely less strikeouts. As a matter of fact I want to see the entire roster cut down on those this week. Bumgarner is going for the Giants in what might be his last start in a Gnats uni/ I say they send him and Bochy to the offseason with a defeat.

  2. Hill is a true warrior. He looked like he was in total agony on almost every pitch but kept plowing on. Ultimately struck out 5 of the 6 guys he faced. Oh yeah, he came up to bat and smacked a double down the left field line and ran full speed to second. Doc and Honeycutt kept looking at each other as if to say “should we pull him now?” Finished his two innings and then went down to the bullpen and threw another inning. They had the camera on him the whole time and he actually looked much better there. Orel and Joe were saying that maybe some scar tissue had loosened and he was feeling less pain. He finished up in the pen and then ran full speed to the dugout. Amazing!

  3. I didn’t see it but the box raised some questions.

    8 pitchers to complete 9 innings. Bellinger, Smith, Lux 0fer.

    Team 7 for 33 (5 BB). San Diego pitching 18th in MLB. (Washington 14th, last in relief, Milwaukee 16th, 12th in relief)

    Floro no more-o with an ERA of 4.40?

    Washington is 7-3 on a 3 game win streak, Milwaukee is 9-1 on a 5 game win streak.

    1. Belli hit a couple of balls really hard, but they were right at somebody. Lux had a bad night. Smith also hit one that went pretty deep, but that ball park held it. Floro is toast pretty much. I think the plan was for Gonsolin to go 3. But he only went 2. Maeda, Urias worked very short outings. The guys in the booth were saying that it looks like Roberts is setting up the pen for the way they might work in the playoffs. Pederson thought he had flied out in the 9th, but the ball kept going and went out over that short porch in left. He was totally stunned. Hill had one of the gutsiest performances I have ever watched. I thought he was gone for sure when he loaded the bases in the first. But he got out of it. I also thought Roberts was going to pull him after his at bat since you really do not want to waste a bench player that early. The dugout was all laughing when he hit his double. The only way he was scoring was if someone hit the ball over the fence. He recorded his 1000th career K in the second. He was asking Turner for the ball. They had it authenticated and then it went to Rich. Other than Floro, the BP did a good job. Other than the walk he issued to Urias in the 9th, Kenley looked good. To touch on what Scoop said about the 7 for 33 line. I have noticed a trend lately that really bothers me, especially since when I played we were always taught to protect the plate. More than one of these guys sat there last night and watched very hittable pitches right in the middle of the plate just go by. Protect the plate! Cody’s BA now sits exactly at .300. I say the over under on him finishing there is about even. My second surgery went very well and I am seeing pretty good right now. Have my followup check up today….Have a great day all.

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