When MLB announced a postseason format Tuesday that includes no off days during the first three rounds (only between rounds), the standard analysis pointed to teams like the Dodgers having an advantage because they could fill out a full five-man rotation with capable starting pitchers.
So a day later, the Dodgers started reliever Brusdar Graterol for the second time in four days, moving starter Dustin May into a ‘bulk’ relief role.
“There’s a lot of different layers and it’s a longer conversation,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said when asked to explain the apparent disconnect. “It’s basically just maximizing matchups. So when you have guys that can pitch in different situations and you’re trying to get 27 outs, each club is going to try to figure out the best way to get 27 outs. Everyone has different views on it. Media has different views on it, fans have different views and we (do too).
“Most important is that the Dodgers, internally, we’re aligned. So I think that’s kind of the whole crux of it.”
The bullpen game Sunday produced a victory. Graterol and seven relievers – only Victor Gonzalez pitched more than one inning – allowed just one run on four hits to the Houston Astros. With May pitching 5 1/3 efficient innings, the Dodgers won Wednesday as well.
Roberts acknowledged that both games represented practice runs in case the Dodgers decide to take that approach for a postseason game – possibly in the three-game Wild Card Series added this year.
“I think that’s fair,” he said. “I think that in this kind of situation where we have five starters that we like a lot, but there’s certain matchups that you can kind of benefit from, maximize and kind of put together certain things, it just gives you a better chance to win. So to have guys that are open to it – whether it’s Tony (Gonsolin), Dustin, Julio (Urias), whatever the situation – to give the Dodgers the best chance to win that night is a good thing. And also just to see Brusdar being able to do this and see how it kind of plays out is certainly added information.”
Roberts’ comments make it seem as if Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are the only locks in a Dodgers’ postseason rotation – and Buehler has thrown a total of only 7 2/3 innings in two starts over the past four weeks.
On the IL for a second time due to a blister on his index finger, Buehler is not in San Diego with the Dodgers and won’t be traveling with them to Colorado for a four-game series against the Rockies this weekend. Instead, Roberts said Buehler threw a six-inning simulated game earlier this week – with the blister covered, something that wouldn’t be allowed in a regular game – and will do that again at the alternate training site at USC this weekend, throwing 80 to 90 pitches.
That would leave Buehler time for one start with the Dodgers before the regular season ends.
“I am optimistic,” Roberts said. “I think that he’ll do one more simulated game. It’s probably going to be like a six (innings) and 90 (pitches) and then he’ll make his last start of the season with us and be ready for the postseason.”
Reliever Caleb Ferguson was placed on the Injured List with an elbow injury and the Dodgers recalled right-hander Josh Sborz.
Additionally, the Dodgers placed outfielder Joc Pederson on the family medical emergency list. Pederson was away from the team for three games last week and was placed on paternity leave.
MLB announced the 2021 spring training schedule Wednesday. The Dodgers are scheduled to open their Cactus League schedule on Feb. 27 in Mesa against the Chicago Cubs.