Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is sticking with a familiar formula for his playoff rotation, telling reporters (including Jack Harris and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times) that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will start the first two games of the team’s NLDS matchup with the Padres.
Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May are on tap to start Games 3, 4, and 5, though the three pitchers wouldn’t necessarily be deployed in that order. As always, the Dodgers will be flexible with their pitching arrangement during the postseason. “There might be a situation where those guys [Urias, Gonsolin, May] are available in any of the preceding games as a side day to then make a start,” Roberts said.
It also isn’t out of the question that Buehler returns on short rest to pitch in a possible Game 5, though the first step for the Dodgers is making sure that Buehler can get through as much of Game 1 as possible. Two separate trips to the injured list due to a blister problem limited Buehler to just 11 2/3 innings after August 21, and he tossed only four innings (73 pitches) in Game 1 of the Dodgers’ wild card series with the Brewers.
Whether Buehler could pitch longer against the Padres is still up in the air, as Roberts said he will “keep an eye on him each inning….I can’t say it’s scripted or when we’re going to deploy our guys in the pen.” The final five innings of the Game 1 victory over Milwaukee were handled by Urias (three innings), and then an inning each from Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen, with the reliever trio holding the Brewers scoreless.
Jansen’s outing wasn’t without some shakiness, however, which left Roberts saying that Jansen is still the team’s closer, but no longer the automatic option in save situations. “There are still going to be times that I might need him in a different inning, and he’s on-board with whatever to help us win baseball games. It’s a title, but I think that in practice, there are certain innings and certain parts of the lineup that I think he’s the best option.” While Jansen has a 1.97 ERA over 50 1/3 career postseason innings, he also has a few infamous meltdowns on his resume — over his last eight World Series appearances, Jansen has a loss and is only 1-for-4 in save chances.
Though the L.A. pitching staff is well rested after their two-game sweep of the Brew Crew, the Dodgers will still add some more depth, as Roberts intimated that he will add an extra pitcher to the NLDS roster. Los Angeles deployed 15 position players and 13 pitchers on its wild card series roster, but one of those position players will be left out of the NLDS in favor of another arm, likely right-hander Dylan Floro.