LOS ANGELES — In winning the National League West on Friday night, the Dodgers won their 98th game of the season. On Saturday, No. 99 takes the mound in the middle game of the series against the Giants.
Hyun-jin Ryu starts, with at least ostensibly a chance to crack the postseason starting rotation. Kenta Maeda made his final start of the season on Thursday, throwing 61 pitches in three innings on Thursday, and over the final week of the season will transition to the bullpen, which would be his role, if any, in October.
But for Ryu, that move to the bullpen isn’t planned just yet.
“I don’t see him going three or four [innings]. I see him going deeper. He’s throwing the baseball really well right now,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s one of those things we’ll see how it plays out, and keep him built up.”
Ryu has a 3.46 ERA in 23 games in 2017, including 22 starts, with 114 strikeouts and 44 walks in 122 innings, coming back after shoulder and elbow surgeries limited him to just one start in 2015-16 combined. Since a brief move to the bullpen in May — he notched a four-inning save on May 25 — Ryu has a 3.06 ERA in 15 starts and has allowed three or fewer runs in 12 of those outings.
It seems like the Dodgers’ playoff rotation will include Yu Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood lined up in some order after Clayton Kershaw, but given Wood’s experience in the bullpen perhaps he could be utilized in multiple games per postseason series instead of starting once. That would allow Ryu to slot in as the fourth starter in October, a role he is more used to.
Roberts, on Friday at least, wasn’t willing to reveal his plans.
“We still have [now eight] games to go. It seems like a short amount of days, but a lot can happen. To make a decision right now doesn’t seem responsible,” Roberts said. “[Ryu will] make his start tomorrow, then we’ll reassess.”
Minor leaguer suspended
Dodgers right-handed pitcher Oliver Polanco on Friday was suspended for 72 games for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance enhancing drug. The 21-year-old pitcher, signed out of Santo Domingo in January 2016, posted a 2.84 ERA in the Dominican Summer League this season, with 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Time: 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network