The Los Angeles Dodgers have little to play for after clinching the National League West for an eighth consecutive year and also securing the No. 1 seed in the playoff bracket, but each player has emphasized keeping momentum strong heading into the postseason.
Though, it could be reasoned health is more important. Justin Turner was slated to start at third base in the series opener against the Oakland Athletics, only to be scratched from the lineup.
“There was just a cramp in his hamstring. As he went through his pregame and felt good, then something kind of tightened up,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the 7-2 win.
So Turner’s first start at third base since coming off the 10-day injured list was pushed back to Wednesday. Roberts is confident in Turner’s health, but he will only play five or six innings.
As for matters on the mound, Julio Urias was scheduled to make his final start of the regular season and potentially his last of the year. Roberts said the team has not decided on Urias’ role for the postseason, and would discuss the options with him at the appropriate time.
Urias has struggled in the first inning, prompting speculation he could be primed for a spot in the bullpen come October. Particularly with fellow southpaw Caleb Ferguson undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. To his credit, Urias has long maintained he will pitch in any role the Dodgers feel is best for the team.
In lieu of starting Urias, the Dodgers are going with Joe Kelly as an opener in their fourth bullpen game of the season. Kelly threw six pitches and retired the only batter faced on Tuesday night. This marks a fourth time he’s pitching on back-to-back days, and twice in September.
Whereas the Dodgers’ standing in the NL playoffs is locked in, the A’s can still see some movement. The American League West champions are in third place, a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox and trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by two games for the top seed in the AL.
Oakland starts a left-hander of their own in Sean Manaea, who is a lifetime 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA against the Dodgers; both of those outings coming in 2018.
RF: Mookie Betts
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Max Muncy
C: Will Smith
DH: AJ Pollock
CF: Cody Bellinger
LF: Chris Taylor
2B: Kiké Hernandez
2B: Tommy La Stella
LF: Robbie Grossman
SS: Marcus Semien
3B: Jake Lamb
1B: Mark Canha
RF: Stephen Piscotty
DH: Khris Davis
CF: Ramón Laureano
C: Jonah Heim
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