The Dodgers haven’t revealed their planned starting rotation for the National League Division Series beyond Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, but the rest seems to be falling in line.
Yu Darvish, who last pitched on Monday, pitched a side session on Saturday in Denver. But rather than get his work done in the bullpen, Darvish threw off the main mound at Coors Field in an effort to get him used to the conditions.
From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"Instead of putting him in the 'pen, if for some reason he has an opportunity to pitch here, just to get him a little more familiar with the mound," said manager Dave Roberts. "It was my view, because it's different here and Yu just loves information. He takes it all in and applies it accordingly."
The Dodgers will face the winner of the NL wild card game — either the Rockies or Diamondbacks — in the NLDS, which begins on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Getting Darvish ready for a road start means he’s likely to start in Game 3.
Darvish has never pitched at Coors Field in his five-year career. He has pitched twice at Chase Field in Phoenix, once in 2013. He also struck out 10 in five innings, allowing two runs for the win in Phoenix in his second start with the Dodgers, on Aug. 10.
Darvish in Game 3 likely means the Dodgers are leaning toward Rich Hill for Game 2, per Andy McCullough of the LA Times:
The Dodgers haven't finalized it yet, but they are lining up Clayton Kershaw for Game 1, Rich Hill for Game 2 and Yu Darvish for Game 3.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 30, 2017
UPDATE: Manager Dave Roberts added more fuel to the fire Sunday morning pregame:
Rich Hill, lined up to be Game 2 starter, will throw a sim game Monday. Day off for rest of club. Darvish sim game Wednesday.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) October 1, 2017
Hill has allowed six runs in is last five starts, with 40 strikeouts and eight walks. “Good timing, I guess,” Hill said Wednesday night. “Right in time for the postseason.”
He also throws an inordinately high number of curveballs — 39.18% of his pitches this season, per Brooks Baseball — so it makes sense the Dodgers would try to avoid relying on Hill’s breaking pitches in the high altitudes in Denver or Phoenix.
Hill has allowed 15 runs in 13 innings in three career starts at Chase Field, including 10 runs in nine innings in two starts and his year and a half with the Dodgers. He hasn’t pitched at Coors Field since 2008, but in his three career starts there Hill allowed 15 runs in 15⅓ innings.