As requested in the comments, here’s a good thread to argue about and attempt to read the tea leaves as to what the team will do for its upcoming divisional series against Los Angeles.
A quick note before starting: the Dodgers are literally dead last in the majors against lefties as a team. The have a team BA of .216 against all lefties, which is 15 points lower than the 29th ranked team. They have a 75 wRC+ against lefties and a .634 OPS figure as a team … by way of comparison, Michael Taylor has an OPS figure of .648 for the 2016 season. So the Dodgers hit lefties kinda like Taylor hits pitching in general. I only mention this because, while I knew the Dodgers were “bad” against lefties, I didn’t know they were this bad.
So, common sense may seem to indicate that the team would know an important fact like this and either a) plan their rotation accordingly, and b) plan their bullpen accordingly. But, we are talking about a team managed by Dusty Baker, and I’m not sure he’ll have it in him to perhaps consider using Gio Gonzalez in this fashion.
So, that being said, here’s what I think will happen with the rotation and bullpen, based on what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks. (Btw, i am assuming that the Nats don’t blow home field advantage this weekend and the first two games are in DC … which may be a bad assumption but I can’t see them losing 2 of 3 to the unfortunately reeling Marlins)
Rotation goes (and this isn’t much of a surprise): Scherzer, Roark, Gonzalez, Ross
Discussion: Scherzer is scheduled to throw Sunday 10/2 in the final game of the season, giving him normal 4 days rest before the first game of the NLDS (here’s the MLB 2016 post-season schedule). Past that, i’m guessing that Baker will re-arrange the rotation based on performance and not the current order since everyone will have plenty of rest by the time the NLDS rolls around. Assuming that the final three games feature the expected probables of A.J. Cole tonight, Tanner Roark tomorrow 10/1 and Scherzer, then Roark would be on five days of rest for the NLDS game 2.
Gonzalez then goes in Game 3, in LA. Is that bad? Maybe not; in 2016 his home/away splits are nearly identical; he’s been not good no matter where he pitches.
Game 4 is where we think Joe Ross goes 100 pitches or so, which might get him to the 5th inning, and then we see Reynaldo Lopez in a “once through the order” bridge to the back end of the bullpen. Ross seems like he has gotten back to the point where he can go.
This leaves the likes of Mat Latos, A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito off the post-season roster. None has really merited inclusion.
Bullpen goes (and this is where I’m sure there’s some disagreement): Melancon, Kelley, Treinen, Belisle, Perez*, Rzepczynski*, Solis*
This means we’re leaving off:
- Petit: he’s struggled badly and his long man role is replicated by Lopez or Perez
- Glover: he has also struggled down the stretch and loses out in lieu of a third lefty
- Gott, Martin and Grace: all have pitched well since their 9/1 call ups, but none are better options or have made cases to supplant the four righties listed above, all of whom have excelled this year. But I will say, these three may make excellent in-house options to replace the guys who will likely be departing this off-season via FA (specifically Belisle and Rzepczynski).
I think this is a good plan of attack.
Who is the first lefty out of the pen to face the likes of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez or Chase Utley? Per their current depth chart, the Dodgers are starting no less than six guys who are lefty only but the above four are the ones to be most scared of. I think it’ll be scrabble, but having three arms makes it easier to do lefty matchups multiple times in a game.