It should be a playoff atmosphere at Citi Field this weekend with the National League West division champion Los Angeles Dodgers taking on the New York Mets, who are currently vying for a Wild Card spot.
In what could be a potential preview of the NL Division Series, both teams have lined up their three best pitchers to start in the weekend series.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had previously announced Clayton Kershaw is starting the opener on Friday night, which was expected to be the case all along. Who’s now listed as Dodgers probables are Hyun-Jin Ryu in the second game and Walker Buehler in the series finale.
With the division already locked up, the Dodgers have had the ability to give their starters extra rest if they choose. That’s been particularly true with both Ryu and Buehler as they have surpassed respective career highs in innings with the postseason still around the corner.
Ryu last pitched on Sept. 4 against the Colorado Rockies, so he will be starting on 10 days of rest come Saturday. He has been struggling a bit as of late, pitching to a 9.95 ERA in his last four starts to raise his season ERA a full run from 1.45 to 2.45.
Unlike Ryu though, the Dodgers elected not to give Buehler extra rest after tossing seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in Tuesday night’s victory over the Baltimore Orioles to officially clinch the division. Buehler did make that turn on seven days’ rest.
It is a bit interesting to see the Dodgers order their top three starters for this Mets series as is not only against a potential postseason opponent but with Kershaw pitching Friday, that lines him up for Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Ryu would then be in line to pitch Game 2, followed by Buehler in Game 3 if the rotation is not shuffled any more to finish out the season.
Opposing Kershaw in the opener for the Mets is Noah Syndergaard. Saturday will feature a matchup of perhaps the top two Cy Young candidates in the NL with Jacob deGrom opposing Ryu, and then the finale will be hard-throwing righties in Buehler and Zach Wheeler.
The Dodgers may have already clinched the NL West, but they still are in the race for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
So they should be playing with just as much motivation as the Mets, who are fighting for their postseason lives and looking for revenge after dropping three out of four back at Dodger Stadium in May.