With MLB eliminating off days for postseason series prior to the World Series, it presented a new wrinkle for clubs with respect to managing a pitching staff. That became all the more complicated for the Los Angeles Dodgers upon falling into a 3-1 deficit against the Atlanta Braves.
Although the Dodgers managed to overcome the significant hurdle to win the National League pennant for a third time in the past four years, they were left with just one off day before beginning the World Series.
A day off after Game 2 helped reset a taxed bullpen, and so too did Monday. Now the Dodgers head into game Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays with essentially their entire staff prepared to help back Tony Gonsolin.
“Obviously it’s not do or die, but the mindset is we’re going to do everything we can to win Game 6,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Knowing that we have Walker starting Game 7. And Julio as well as far as pitching.
“I think outside of Walker, Julio and obviously Clayton, everyone else is in play.”
That notably includes Brusdar Graterol and Kenley Jansen, each of whom were passed over in favor of Blake Treinen for a save opportunity in Game 5. Graterol and Jansen had already pitched on back-to-back days, and while Treinen had as well, his experience in going a third consecutive game was a separator.
Roberts’ comments also suggest Dustin May will be available on one days’ rest after throwing 30 pitches and retiring four of six batters faced. “I bounce back pretty quick, so I should be ready,” May said.
Clayton Kershaw has won two games in a postseason series for the first time in his career and conceivably pitched for the final time this year in Game 5. However, the left-hander made it clear he plans on being available if needed.
“We’ll all be ready to go Game 6,” he said. “For myself personally, I’m still going to try and get ready, recover as best I can and be ready to pitch at any moment because it’s the last two games of the season.”
Kershaw’s last postseason appearance came in Game 5 of the NL Division Series, which ended in heartbreak for him and the Dodgers.
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