Dodgers at Giants, 6:05 PM PDT, TV: NBCS BA, SPNLA
LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-4, 2.42 ERA) makes what might (might!) be his last regular season start for the Dodgers. He’ll face RHP Tristan Beck (3-3, 4.05 ERA) of the Giants.
Tom Verducci of SI has his doubts that the Dodgers can navigate the postseason successfully with the rotation they have:
Not since Leo Durocher sent a bunch of draft classified 4F pitchers to the mound in 1944 have the Dodgers had a worse rotation. Never in franchise history have Dodgers starters thrown fewer innings in a full season.
The workaround for manager Dave Roberts will be to parcel the game among many pitchers. It’s a dangerous way to navigate October—the more pitching changes you make, the more chances you have to be wrong—but it’s what Roberts has done all season, and it has a better chance of working because of a fortuitous postseason schedule chock full of off days.
When you consider why this formula is necessary more than preferred, think about all the starting pitchers the Dodgers are paying this year who are not on their active roster: Trevor Bauer, Julio Urias, Noah Syndergaard, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May. That’s $63.2 million in starting pitching gone.
The Dodgers were forced to cobble together a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, youngsters and well-traveled veterans in which nobody has thrown 140 innings. The rotation’s ERA is 4.61, the fourth worst in franchise history and the worst since Hal Gregg and his bad back fronted Durocher’s Brooklyn wartime rotation while leading the league in the Triple Crown of wildness: walks, wild pitches and hit batters.
Roberts’s workaround to this assortment has been to consistently pull starters quickly and rely on his bullpen. The Dodgers have the best bullpen in baseball in the second half (2.28 ERA) and it’s not even close.
This is Roberts’s plan: cover the first 18 batters or so with a starter and divide the other 20 or so among relievers.
The plan can work because of the off days, including one before and one after NLDS Game 2. Even if the Dodgers advance in five games against their NLDS opponent, Roberts will have a rested bullpen for six of his first eight postseason games. There is almost no penalty for scripting short starts every game.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
- 1923 It’s Zack Wheat Day at Ebbets Field, and the retiring Dodger outfielder collects two hits and is given an automobile. Cy Williams of the Phillies spoils the special day as he ties the score in the seventh inning with his 39th homer and his 40th in the 12th frame gives Philadelphia the victory, 6-4.
- 1933 At Sportsman’s Park in Cubs’ 12-2 rout of the Cardinals, Babe Herman hits for the cycle, becoming the first player in baseball history to do it three times. The Chicago outfielder also accomplished the rare feat on two other occasions while playing for the Dodgers in 1931.
- 1947 Ralph Branca becomes the youngest player to start a World Series opener. At Yankee Stadium, the 21-year and 9 months old right hander and the Dodgers lose to the Bronx Bombers, 5-1.
- 1951 Knowing the Giants have won their game in Boston, the Dodgers rally from a five-run deficit to beat Philadelphia in 14 innings, 9-8, forcing a three-game playoff for the National League pennant. After Jackie Robinson makes a game-saving catch in the thirteenth to preserve an 8-8 tie, he hits a home run in the next frame that proves to be the difference in Brooklyn’s victory at Shibe Park.
- 1953 George Shuba, best known as the Montreal Royal teammate who shook Jackie Robinson’s hand after the rookie had homered, becomes the third major leaguer and the first National League player to pinch hit a home run in the World Series when he goes deep off Allie Reynolds in the Dodgers’ 9-5 Game 1 loss at Yankee Stadium. ‘Shotgun’ joins Yogi Berra (1947) and Johnny Mize (1952), who both accomplished the feat playing for the Bronx Bombers.
- 1956 Don Newcombe, a three-time twenty-game winner, goes the distance to earn his major-league leading 27th victory when the Dodgers beat Pittsburgh at Forbes Field, 8-6, on the last day of the campaign. Newk’s win is the most ever in a season by an African-American pitcher.
- 1962 On the last day of the season, Gene Oliver’s eighth-inning homer off Johnny Podres proves to be the difference in St. Louis’ 1-0 victory over the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. The loss to the Cardinals forces Los Angeles into a best-of-three-game playoff with the Giants for the National League pennant, a series the team will lose to San Francisco.
- 1999 The largest regular-season crowd in Candlestick Park history, 61,389 fans, watches the Dodgers beat the home team, 9-4 in the last baseball game to ever be played at the ‘Stick’. Giant greats help mark the occasion with Juan Marichal tossing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game and Willie Mays throwing out the ballpark’s final pitch after the game.
Here’s a kick: Miguel Rojas took the rookies shoe shopping.
Lineups when available.