Early Thoughts on Dodgers Postseason Pitching Options

Two weeks from today ends the 2022 regular season. Two weeks left for the Los Angeles Dodgers to decide who will be on the postseason roster, work out any kinks, and, most importantly, stay healthy.

The Dodgers currently sit at 103 wins, three shy of their all time record. As we’ve mentioned before, that record is bound to fall.

And as we all know, while it would be a historic regular season, to a lot of fans it doesn’t matter if the Dodgers do not win the World Series. To have the best team, pretty much from the beginning of the season to the end, and then fall short in the playoffs, would be another disappointment in this run of truly great Dodger teams.

The area of most concern going into the playoffs is the starting rotation. The offense with the Big Four at the top should be worrying other pitching staffs. The bullpen, if all come back healthy, should also be pretty steady. But the starting rotation has a few question marks.

At the beginning of the season, the Dodgers had a plethora of options. Tony Gonsolin, who mid-season was a serious Cy Young contender halfway through the season, wasn’t sure if he was going to be in the starting rotation, or at least at the very back end of it. But injuries stole the latter half of his season, and it still remains to be seen if he will be able to contribute in the playoffs in a meaningful way.

Walker Buehler, thought to be the second coming of a Bulldog at the front of the rotation, is out until least the end of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney, and Dustin May have all been out parts of this season dealing with injuries, with May most notably returning from his own Tommy John surgery. That leaves Julio Urías and Tyler Anderson as the only starters who have not dealt with injury this season.

Urías started the season a bit shaky, but has been strong since mid-June. He has won 15 of his last 16 starts, and has pitched to a 2.27 ERA. He has a low walk rate, and usually strikes out between six to eight batters an outing. His one issue is he tends to allow a homer each game- however most of the time it is just a solo shot.

Kershaw has been very good since his return from the IL. In his last four games, he has only allowed four earned runs, and walked four batters. He struck out 10 in his last outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

So the question becomes, who do the Dodgers turn to after Urías and Kershaw? May seems to be the most obvious option. Since his return to the rotation, he has had two shaky outings. On September 2nd he allowed six runs to the San Diego Padres, and his next outing he allowed four runs, also to the Padres. His three other outings he allowed no runs twice and one run in the other. If he continues to get his groove back, the firepower of May would be a great playoff edition.

Anderson and Heaney could be used to piggy back each other, especially in a tough seven game series. Or they could be used as long men for one of the other starters.

Something that could be interesting to watch is if a starter gets used like Julio Urías did in the 2020 postseason. Urías threw the final pitch of the World Series as the Dodgers did not trust many other arms out of the bullpen. The playoffs are also in a format closer to the 2020 postseason, where there is not an off day between games five and six for a travel day.

In that vein, on Wednesday manager Dave Roberts said that Blake Treinen will not be activated this week, as had previously been thought. He is not bouncing back from his Monday bullpen as had been hoped, and Roberts indicated the team is unsure if Treinen will be able to contribute in the playoffs.

Brusdar Graterol will be activated on Thursday.

The Dodgers do have the luxury of having a lot of arms from which to choose, and time to have things sort themselves out. For now, fans will just have to speculate which arms will possibly get the Dodgers back to being World Series Champions.

10 thoughts on “Early Thoughts on Dodgers Postseason Pitching Options

  1. Losing Treinen would be a big loss as Kimbrel is not pitching well enough to be a closer or in the playoffs. Kahnle looks great. Is Almonte returning? I am ok with a bullpen closer by committee. Phillips, Ferguson, Martin, Vesia, Graterol, Kahnle and a rotation guy for long or piggy back games is a strong group. Urias, Kershaw, May and Anderson if needed is fine with me. If Gonsolin returns even better!

    1. Well I had hoped our pitching would be well rested and ready for October, and it still might be, but it’s suspect. May took a step back last night and the news on Gonsolin and Trienen isn’t all that encouraging.

      As some of you may recall I had concerns early that this starting pitch could be vulnerable, I took a lot of heat about that position from the usual suspects at DT, but my concerns did indeed materialize. We’ve managed, we’ve hit, and clearly are in a good position going forward. We’re just better and deeper than any other team, but as we all know, it’s not about the regular season, it is who will be peaking in October.

      1. You mean elite pitching such as Madison Bumgarner?

        We seem to be in the midst of a natural “clinch letdown”. Our success in the post season will be at least partially determined by how quickly we can ramp up for the playoffs.

        Maybe someday, someone will find a way to rest physically without turning off the brain and competition switch for these last few weeks.

  2. At this point, post season staff is in flux. Graterol is due back tonight. May has looked very pedestrian and has not been all that impressive. They could conceivably have an all lefty rotation in the playoffs.

    1. All lefties is the direction this is heading. And by the time we get there, I see none who will likely go 7 innings against stronger lineups.

      1. Urias is capable as is Kershaw but going over 7 is not what the Dodgers want as the rotation is thin. Almonte reportedly is pitching in rehab. If the Dodgers have Phillips, Graterol, Vesia, Martin, Almonte plus Price and or Heaney they should be ok. Gonsolin had a good session yesterday so that helps.

      2. Not over 7. Complete 7. Or even 6 for that matter. As this goes deeper into October, I expect to see only 5 completed. Our bullpen will be challenged.

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