Two down, 11 to go — Or maybe one down, three to go sounds less daunting. Regardless of how you do the math, now that the Dodgers have taken care of a much less superior team (sorry Kato Kaelin, but it’s true) in the Brewers, we move on to the “real playoffs” facing a much tougher opponent.
In the latest on our roundtable series, the Dodgers Nation team of writers and contributors discusses the upcoming NLDS against our neighbors to the south, the San Diego Padres.
At the time of this writing, the status of the Padres starting rotation, specifically Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger’s health, is undetermined. Whether one or both return for this series will undoubtedly play a big factor.
So let’s talk about the Dodgers pitching staff. How would you like to see the rotation line up?
Gail Johnson (@GJOH29): One of the many oddities of a 5-game series with no off days is that the traditional concept of starting your best pitcher in Game 1 and then possibly Game 4 is not likely to be in play. I think the Dodgers will be good if they stick with Buehler, then Kershaw, Urias, and Gonsolin/May, with May ready to relieve Buehler in Game 1 if blister issues surface.
Daniel Palma (@Daniel_Palma96): Kershaw, Buehler, Gonsolin, May, and Kershaw/Urias in Game 5.
Because of the nature of the series, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May will likely need to have individual starts if this goes past Game 3. With that being said, I’d like to see an extra day of rest for Beuhler and that nagging blister of his if possible. Should the series go five, I believe Kershaw is fresh enough to be able to start the final game with Urías coming out of the pen again in long relief if necessary.
Brian Robitaille (@BriRobitaille): Buehler, Kershaw, May, Gonsolin, Urias. I think games 3 & 4 are pretty much interchangeable, but that’s how I’d roll with it.
Kellan Grant (@kellangrant): Buehler, Kershaw, Gonsolin, May, Buehler/Urias/all arms ready to go to advance at any cost necessary if this series does go 5.
Clint Pasillas (@realFRG): To start the series, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (plus Dave Roberts already confirmed it), Walker and Clayton set up the series nicely in games 1 and 2 respectively. And with Kershaw not going in game 1, it mitigates Doc’s ability to pitch him in relief or on short rest, which we know historically has been worse for the ace and the Dodgers… and fans.
Beyond 21 and 22, Tony Gonsolin has done everything he’s needed to earn a game 3 nod in my eyes. Hopefully in a potential series clincher for LA. If the series gets to 4 or 5 games, like it could, Julio Urias starts game 4 followed by Buehler on short rest for a possible game 5. Dustin May would be available out of the pen as a bulk guy for any game.
Any changes you’d like to see to the roster heading into the NLDS?
Gail: With the Dodgers likely needing more pitchers in a 5 straight game scenario, I’d like to see Dylan Floro her his spot back on the roster, and I don’t really see a need for Terrance Gore to take up a spot.
Daniel: This is an easy one: Dylan Floro instead of Terrance Gore. I originally believed that the Dodgers would have Alex Wood on the Wild Card roster and was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t, but I could also see them adding him as the long reliever for this series considering it will be 5 games in 5 days if it goes the distance.
Brian: I’m going to have to agree with everyone else here and say Floro replacing Gore. The Dodgers will need more bullpen help this series, with more games.
Kellan: Piggybacking on what the rest have said, I think we’d all be a bit surprised and disappointed if they didn’t decide to replace Gore with Floro in this series.
Clint: Roberts already heavily hinted that Floro will be back on the roster with the club’s need for another arm in a 5 game series that could go 5 days straight. With that, Gore’s usefulness as an elite runner and late game defender might not be worth a roster spot. Although, I might personally prefer Joc Pederson off the roster for Floro. Matt Beaty is an option as well.
Who’s your Ideal DH?
Gail: I say we keep running with Eddie Rios and let him fly.
Daniel: Edwin Rios should see the most time at the DH with Will Smith filling in when Clayton Kershaw starts and Barnes is behind the plate.
Brian: It will all depend on the pitcher/matchup, in my opinion. I think Edwin Rios has shown that he can hit lefties too, and personally, I like him in the lineup over other options, like Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez. So, I’d more than likely go with Rios.
Kellan: Edwin Rios babyyyyyyy!
Clint: I’m ride or die with Babe Rios. Expect Will Smith to DH in Kershaw’s game 2 start.
What’s your series outcome prediction?
Gail: Dodgers in 4. See you in…Arlington for the NLCS vs the Braves.
Daniel: If we see Clevinger and Lamet, I have the Dodgers in 4. If they aren’t healthy enough to pitch, this series will be over before Padres fans can put up their Wild Card Series Champion banners.
Brian: I’m not as confident as many others it seems, but I do think the Dodgers have a clear advantage on paper. Unfortunately, games aren’t played on paper, and we’ve seen what has happened over the last seven years. Many of those years, the Dodgers lost their playoff series as the favorites, so there are no guarantees in baseball. Without Clevinger and Lamet, I don’t think the Padres arms will hold up. But if either of those two are cleared to return, and their offense shows up, it could be a much closer matchup than many are expecting. I’ll say Dodgers in 5.
Kellan: I agree with Brian. On paper, if the Dodgers take care of business, this will be over quick. But I also feel like that’s something we say every year and it clearly doesn’t work out like that. I’m going to say this series goes 4, and game 4 specifically will be a very stressful game to watch.
Clint: It’s tough to predict much with this series before knowing the health of Clevinger or Lamet. The true health, not just on the active roster. Without them, the Padres get much weaker in a 5 games in 5 days series. With one or both, the scales balance back closer to the middle.
Still, Dodgers in 4 is what I’m going with.
The series kicks off on Tuesday… how are you feeling about it or any of the above topics? Let us know in the comments below!