While the Los Angeles Dodgers can mathematically overtake the Washington Nationals for home-field advantage in the National League Division Series, they’ll be hard-pressed to do so. Washington’s magic number to clinch homefield is two entering the final three games of the regular season.
Beyond jostling for position in the standings to host Games 1 and 2, and a potential Game 5 in the NLDS, the Dodgers are at the point of needing to make final evaluations on players for their postseason roster.
More specifically, questions throughout the pitching staff with remain. And with that, Brandon McCarthy is expected to pitch out of the bullpen in Friday’s series opener against the San Francisco Giants.
Brett Anderson did so Thursday, turning in 2.1 scoreless innings. Both Anderson and McCarthy are believed to be candidates for the Dodgers’ fourth starter in the postseason.
Manager Dave Roberts said he was “very anxious” to see McCarthy as a reliever. He last came out of the bullpen in 2007 with the Texas Rangers, but did so just once. The season prior, McCarthy 51 of McCarthy’s 53 games with the Chicago White Sox were as a reliever.
McCarthy was reinstated from the disabled list on Sunday and pitched much like he did after returning from Tommy John surgery. McCarthy acknowledged after the outing a case of the yips, along with hip trouble, were reasons to blame for his struggles.
The 33-year-old went 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA, 3.95 FIP and 1.27 WHIP in eight starts after returning from Tommy John surgery. McCarthy was 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his first four starts prior to attempting to pitch through hip stiffness.
He walked 17 batters in 12.1 innings over his next four starts. Included in that was setting a career high with five walks on Aug. 2, which McCarthy then matched in two ensuing starts. On Sunday, he only allowed two runs, walked one batter, and had six strikeouts over 5.1 innings.
If Anderson or McCarthy aren’t tabbed as the fourth starter, it’s believed that will go to Julio Urias. The Dodgers of course may find themselves in a position where Clayton Kershaw is needed on short rest.
However, Roberts isn’t yet certain if that will be plausible given Kershaw missed 75 days this season while recovering from a mild disc herniation.
Roberts has already named a handful of players who will be with the club in the NLDS, the most recent being outfielder Andrew Toles.