The Playoff Bullpen Should Be…

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The Dodgers start their 2017 World Series title run one week from today.

And the pitchers should be…

In the most recent edition of this newsletter, we went over which position players should be on the playoff roster. Let’s look at the pitchers now:

Starters

Clayton Kershaw

Yu Darvish

Rich Hill

Who’s the fourth starter, Alex Wood or Hyun-jin Ryu? Wood has the better numbers overall, but he has a 4.03 ERA and a 1.276 WHIP in September. Ryu has a 1.38 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP in September. Since the All-Star break, Ryu has a 2.42 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP. Wood has a 3.89 ERA and a 1.242 WHIP.

Wood has a 2.57 ERA and a 0.952 WHIP in 21 innings against Arizona this season and a 3.18 ERA and 1.294 WHIP in 17 innings against Colorado. Ryu has a 6.30 ERA in 10 innings against Arizona and a 6.75 ERA and 1.977 WHIP in 14.2 innings against Colorado.

It’s closer than most people seem to think, but I’d go with Wood. His success against Colorado and Arizona compared to Ryu is too dramatic for me.

Of course, what are the odds the No. 4 starter is used in the five-game NLDS? There could be a sweep. If the Dodgers are down 2-1, would they go with Wood/Ryu or would they bring Kershaw back? I’m thinking the only way a No. 4 starter is used is if the Dodgers are up 2-1.

Bullpen

Let’s get the locks for the bullpen out of the way first:

Kenley Jansen

Brandon Morrow

Luis Avilan

Tony Watson

So who does that leave? And how many relievers will the Dodgers have on the roster? Let’s go with eight relievers, meaning there are four spots left. They go to:

Tony Cingrani: He has pitched well in September, with a 1.04 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP to go along with 12 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.

Kenta Maeda: I think his stuff translates well in relief. He has struck out eight in six relief innings this season. Plus, he is one of the few relievers who can go more than an inning, which could be important.

That leaves two spots for these candidates: Ryu, Ross Stripling, Josh Fields, Walker Buehler, Brock Stewart. I would leave Ryu off and let him rest up for a potential NLCS, plus there are already three lefties in the bullpen and he’ll be of more use in a seven-game series. I like Ryu a lot, so it’s not an easy call. I’m also leaving off Buehler. Even if you remove his one really bad outing, when he gave up four runs against Colorado, then he still has allowed six hits and three walks in six innings. Stripling just looks exhausted to me, and has an ERA of 9.00 this month. However he may start Sunday, so he could pitch himself back onto the roster. But if he doesn’t, the last two spots go to:

Josh Fields

Brock Stewart

Really though, it’s a roll of the dice no matter who you pick. And how people pitch in the final three games against Colorado will probably play into the decision a lot too.

Gonzalez is shut down

Dave Roberts said Wednesday that Adrian Gonzalez will be shut down for the rest of the season. After hitting a double and a homer on Tuesday, Gonzalez had back tightness on Wednesday and it was mutually decided to send him home and have him start preparing for next season.

“You can’t go into a postseason with tightness and be a question mark that’s going to be up in the air when you’ve got healthy guys in there,” Gonzalez said. As for next year? “My plan is to be an everyday player again and give it a go to have a really good season. Like I expected for this year.”

Gonzalez deserves a lot of credit for being a team player this season. He could have demanded his job back or made things difficult when he returned from the DL, but he saw how well the Dodgers were doing with Cody Bellinger at first and accepted a role on the bench. Now he is gracefully stepping aside for the betterment of the team in the postseason. Some will say that he’s just doing what he should be doing, so why praise him. But we are all so quick to bash players nowadays, it’s important to recognize people when they do the selfless thing.

When you look back on the season, the injuries to Gonzalez and Andrew Toles opened the door for Bellinger. Without those injuries, the Dodgers probably don’t win more than 100 games. No team goes into the season hoping for injuries, but it turned out to be just what the Dodgers needed.

By the way, the loss of Gonzalez all but assures Andre Ethier of a spot on the postseason roster.

What about Puig?

Yasiel Puig just couldn’t make it through the whole season without a little bit of drama. On Saturday, he got thrown out at second (without even attempting to slide) to end the game in a loss to the Giants. Puig said he didn’t slide because he felt a twinge in his leg. Roberts benched him for Sunday’s game. Then Puig arrived late for Monday’s game, causing him to be benched again. He returns to the lineup Tuesday and doubles, then hits a home run on Wednesday.

Reaction? Looks like it has been handled. Puig is going to be a key guy in the postseason, and there’s no reason to blow it up into something bigger than it is.

Best record in baseball

The Dodgers have clinched the best record in the NL and are trying to get the best record in baseball. Here’s how it stands:

Dodgers, 102-57

Cleveland, 100-59, 2 back

Houston, 99-60, 3 back

The Dodgers just need to win once against Colorado to clinch best record. Or Houston and Cleveland need to lose just once.

latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-dugout-bullpen-20170928-story.html