As the Dodgers head into their series finale against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, thoughts turned to the regular season finale and whether or not Clayton Kershaw will start on Wednesday.
If the Dodgers, currently two games back of the St. Louis Cardinals with four to play, are still alive on Wednesday, there is no question that Kershaw would pitch against the San Francisco Giants. But if there are a combination of Dodger losses and Cardinal wins that add up to three in the next three days, the Dodgers will be eliminated.
That would make Wednesday's game meaningless, and given that Kershaw is dealing with a right hip impingement it might be prudent to shut him down rather than pitch in a meaningless game. It's a scenario that manager Don Mattingly doesn't want to happen, obviously.
"He feels good. Again, we don't have to cross that yet. I hope it's not even a question. I know he wants to pitch no matter what. Ned (Colletti) and I haven't really talked about it yet," Mattingly said. "I don't know what the drawback is necessarily if he wants to pitch, especially if everybody is saying he's not going to hurt himself. Obviously, we don't want anything to happen to him."
Without the second wild card, a new addition this season, the Dodgers wouldn't even be alive for a playoff spot right now. So it's understandable that Mattingly would like the new baseball postseason addition. But Mattingly likes the new format not just because it has helped his team, who would have to play a one-game wild card game in Atlanta on Friday, Oct. 5 against the Braves if they win the second wild card.
"I like the second wild card because of what it causes. It penalizes the wild card, and rewards the division winners. It makes it more fair, and gives more incentive to win the division," Mattingly said.
With minor league seasons long over, the Rockies still made a move on Sunday, purchasing the contract of 21-year old outfielder Rafael Ortega from Class A Modesto. Ortega gives the Rockies an extra player on their bench, which was down to one healthy player on Saturday night in Jonathan Herrera, an amazing feat with expanded September rosters.
"I know they are really banged up, because there have been a couple of times they've let pitchers hit when they're bringing a guy in, twice in the last two days," Mattingly said. "[Rockies manager Jim Tracy]'s only got so many bullets over there, and he has to save them for what he thinks is a big situation."
Mattingly said he couldn't remember being on a team that called up a player so late in the season, with just four games left. Ortega hit .283/.344./410 with 36 stolen bases in 114 games in the California League this season, and he will make his major league debut on Sunday, batting second and playing center field for Colorado.
"I've seen some reports, and I know (pitching coach Rick Honeycutt) has watched minor league video of him," Mattingly said.
Andre Ethier is batting seventh for the first time since Sept. 30, 2009, against the left-handed Jorge De La Rosa. Luis Cruz, who showed no concussion symptoms after getting hit by a ball during batting practice on Saturday.
"It's kind of where the lineup works. Cruz fits in there behind Hanley, kind of forces them you hope to pitch to Hanley a little bit more," Mattingly said. "With Dre back there they are going to be more cautious (with Hanley) given how he has hit lefties and how he has hit this guy in particular."
Ethier is hitting .220/.273/.327 against left-handed pitchers this season, and in his career has one hit in 11 at-bats (.091) against De La Rosa, with five strikeouts.
Ortega CF (L)
Blackmon LF (L)
De La Rosa P (L)
Victorino LF (S)
Gonzalez 1B (L)
Ethier RF (L)
Game Time: 1:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket