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Simulating the Dodgers’ 2020 season: Games 40, 41 vs. Phillies

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The simulated Dodgers travel to Philadelphia for the first time this season in Out of the Park Baseball 21.

From Pete Volk’s Twitter

This is the 31st installment of an ongoing series, where my dad and I will simulate each game on the Dodgers schedule until real Dodger baseball returns. Catch up on the rest of the series here!

Last time out, the Dodgers eked out a series win against the Padres, re-taking the lead in the National League West. Today, we’ve got a doubleheader on the road against the Phillies, starting with Ross Stripling (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (4-1, 2.59 ERA).

Watch it here or scroll below to find out what happened. If you want to be notified when we go live with future simulations and chime in with your live feedback and/or input on managerial decisions, follow me on Twitch! We did some Sporcle at the end, too, so stick around if you want to see that!

The Dodgers took a big early lead with an explosive second inning. A.J. Pollock led off the inning with a double, and with two outs Ross Stripling singled him home to take the 1-0 lead. After Mookie Betts got hit by a pitch, Max Muncy hit a three-run home run to right field, opening the lead to 4-0.

The Dodgers soon extended that lead — a solo home run by Justin Turner in the third made it 5-0, and a two-run home run by Turner in the fifth made it 7-0.

Armed with that 7-0 lead, Stripling was dealing on the mound. Through five innings, he had given up just two hits, with no runs allowed and seven strikeouts against just one walk. But in the bottom of the sixth, he ran into trouble. With Jean Segura on first and two outs, Srripling walked both Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins to load the bases. Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam to left field, cutting the lead to 7-4.

We brought in Jimmy Nelson to pitch the seventh, who gave up a two-run home run to Segura, cutting the lead to 7-6.

But Mookie Betts hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth, and A.J. Pollock scored Corey Seager on a sac fly to make it 9-6 Dodgers.

With a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, we brought in the struggling Kenley Jansen to close this one out. After getting a ground out to start the inning, Jansen allowed three consecutive singles to Segura, Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto, loading the bases for Bryce Harper. We brought in Caleb Ferguson to face the lefty Harper, but Harper and Hoskins both hit RBI singles, bringing the Dodger lead down to 9-8.

With the bases loaded and one out, Ferguson struck out Gregorius. We brought in Joe Kelly to face the righty Scott Kingery, but Kelly walked Kingery with the bases loaded, tying the game 9-9.

In the top of the tenth, Max Muncy hit a solo home run — his second home run of the day and the Dodgers’ fifth — to take a 10-9 lead. Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol combined to close the door in the tenth, closing out a stressful win for Dodgers in the first game of this series.

Here’s the box score:

Game two saw Alex Wood (4-2, 2.32 ERA) vs. Zack Wheeler (2-3, 4.53 ERA), and with a depleted bullpen, we were hoping for a long performance from Wood.

That was not the case. This time it was the Phillies who took the early lead thanks to a first-inning home run by McCutchen. And in the bottom of the second, Wood hurt his shoulder striking out Gregorius, and had to be removed from the game.

We’ll talk more about Wood’s injury later, but we brought in Jimmy Nelson to relieve him. Nelson struggled again, giving up four hits, two walks and two earned runs in two innings pitched — we were hoping he’d take us through the fifth inning, and he barely lasted through the third.

In the top of the third, the Dodgers took a brief lead when Corey Seager hit a 411-foot two-run home run to right-center. The Phillies took it back in the bottom of the third, when NL home run leader Rhys Hoskins hit a two-run shot off Jimmy Nelson.

Gregorius hit a 440-foot shot to center off Caleb Ferguson in the bottom of the fifth, pushing the Philles lead to 4-2.

Still leading 4-2, the Phillies brought old friend Josh Fields in to pitch the top of the eighth, with Justin Turner on first after a lead-off single. Joc Pederson hit a massive 460-foot blast to right-center, tying the game at 4-4.

Scott Alexander and Blake Treinen survived a jam for the Dodger bullpen in the ninth, and with one out in the top of the tenth, Joc Pederson doubled to put the leading run on second with one out. On the very next pitch, A.J. Pollock doubled him home, taking a 5-4 Dodger lead.

To close out the game in the bottom of the tenth, we had a choice between Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen. On the one hand, Jansen is our closer and should be our best option. On the other hand, Jansen has been awful for the past month, including in game one of this series, and Baez has been great all season.

So we brought in Baez, who immediately started the inning by giving up a single to Hoskins and walkin gGregorious. After getting pinch hitter Jay Bruce to fly out, Baez hit Roman Quinn with an 0-2 pitch. I usually save the bold text for runs scored, but I want to emphasize that Pedro Baez, when facing a sub-.200 hitter with two on and one out in the bottom of the 10th, hit him on an 0-2 pitch.

So now, with the bases loaded and one out, it was the pinch hitter Yairo Munoz, hitless since April 16. No longer: on 2-1, he hit a single up the middle, scoring Hoskins and tying the game 5-5.

At that point, we brought in Jansen, who struck out both Segura and McCutchen to end the inning, and making our managing decisions look quite silly. That didn’t last though — after the Dodgers didn’t threaten in the top of the 11th, Jansen walked Bryce Harper with one out. Harper stole second, and Jansen, now up to 26 pitches (after 12 in Game 1), had to be relieved.

In came our last option, Joe Kelly. On his first pitch and only pitch, Gregorius sent it into the right-center gap, scoring Harper, winning the game, and tying the series.

Here’s the box score:

That was an anxiety-filled pair of games, to say the least. Let’s review the damage.

  • We are still in first place in the NL West, a game ahead of the Diamondbacks and three ahead of the Padres.
  • Alex Wood will miss six days with shoulder tendinitis. Because there is no day off in this stretch of games, he will likely miss his next scheduled start.
  • Our bullpen is completely shot for game three of this series.
  • Cody Bellinger will be back for game three.

Next time: game three, where we need a great performance from Walker Buehler (1-5, 3.59 ERA) up against Vince Velasquez (4-2, 2.31 ERA).

But first: a decision, and we need your help.

With Wood likely missing his next start, we have to decide who will start instead. As we see it, our options are:

  1. Make no roster moves, have Jimmy Nelson (6.52 ERA, 15 Ks/5 BBs in 9 23 IP) or whichever starter is most rested start for Wood, and insert Wood back into the rotation when he’s healthy. This is the cleanest option, but we’re wary about it due to Nelson’s poor performance (and inability to throw more than two innings without getting gassed today).
  2. Send Jimmy Nelson down to AAA and call up Dustin May, having May make the start.
  3. Put Wood on the 15-day IL, making him miss three starts in total, and call up Dustin May to temporarily replace him in the rotation. May has made seven starts in AAA with Oklahoma City this season, going 2-2 with a 4.93 ERA, with 38 strikeouts against 11 walks in 34 23 innings.

We’re likely going to be exploring some other temporary bullpen moves as well, just so we have some fresh arms for the third game of the series. But we’d like your input! Let us know if you have any other ideas in the comments!

Poll

Who to start for Alex Wood?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Jimmy Nelson/whichever starter is most rested
    (5 votes)
  • 54%
    Dustin May (send down Jimmy Nelson)
    (43 votes)
  • 39%
    Dustin May (put Alex Wood on IL)
    (31 votes)
79 votes total Vote Now

See you then!