Despite the Los Angeles Dodgers holding an 11-2 lead in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, Kenley Jansen was asked to record the final three outs against the Atlanta Braves.
In addition to Jansen, Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl and Tony Gonsolin were theoretically available. “I was going to get Bruihl in there but he couldn’t go,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed after the win.
“Just some soreness in the arm, so couldn’t get loose. So to have Kenley even take down an inning in a plus-plus game, that’s kind of where we were at and he was our most rested reliever. So for him to be a teammate and take down that ninth was huge and just puts us in a good spot for Game 6.”
When asked Friday about potentially needing to replace Bruihl on the NLCS roster, Roberts acknowledged it is a possibility. Bruihl was receiving treatment at Dodger Stadium and due to play catch prior to the team departing for Atlanta.
“We are going to bring an arm just in case he can’t go for Game 6 and beyond,” Roberts said. “But I just don’t have that name right now.”
The arm trouble Bruihl experienced while attempting to warm up has been deemed similar to what he battled at some point in September. “Wanted to be out there, but his arm wouldn’t let him,” Roberts added.
Bruihl was not on the Dodgers’ postseason roster for either the Wild Card Game or NL Division Series, prior to getting added along with Evan Phillips for the NLCS.
The southpaw has allowed just one hit and collected five strikeouts over three scoreless innings against the Braves.
If Bruihl is indeed removed from the NLCS roster due to injury, he would join Justin Turner and Joe Kelly, and not be eligible if the Dodgers advance to the World Series. Turner and Kelly have been replaced by Andy Burns and David Price, respectively.
Who could replace Bruihl?
When further pressed for who might take Bruihl’s spot on the roster, Roberts said, “We’ve got a couple guys we’re tossing around, whether it be a left-hander or a right-hander. So we’re still kind of figuring that out.”
Victor Gonzalez, Darien Nuñez and Andrew Vasquez are among the left-handed relief pitchers already on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster. Andre Jackson and Mitch White are righties who fit that description as well.
Of course, L.A. could look to go off the 40-man — like they did for Burns — with Garrett Cleavinger a possibility under that scenario. Cleavinger ended the season on the 60-day injured list.
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