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Simulating the Dodgers’ 2020 season: Game 42 vs. Phillies

It’s a rubber match after two extra innings affairs to start the series in Out of the Park Baseball 21.

From Pete Volk’s Twitch

This is the 32nd 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, we had a pair of anxiety-filled games against the Phillies to start out this series. The end result: 21 total innings played, a win for each team, and a pair of depleted bullpens.

We turn our attention to the rubber match of the series, where Walker Buehler (1-5, 3.59 ERA) goes up against Vince Velasquez (4-2, 2.31 ERA). But first, some roster business.

Last time out, we asked you, the readers of True Blue LA, to help us figure out how we should navigate Alex Wood’s brief injury that will force him to miss a start. The answer was pretty resounding — as a group, you all wanted to see Jimmy Nelson sent down and Dustin May called up.

One issue — Jimmy Nelson has the right to refuse a minor league assignment, and he exercised that right. So we tested the market to see if there was a young reliever we could trade Nelson for, and sure enough the Red Sox obliged with a young righty we put in AA:

With our bullpen completely depleted, we also made a few temporary moves. We sent down Caleb Ferguson, Scott Alexander and Ross Stripling, calling up Adam Kolarek, Dylan Floro and Victor Gonzalez. There is no requirement in OOTP for players to spend a certain amount of time on a minor league assignment, so we’ll be able to call them back up when we need them again.

It’s time for the game. 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!

After scoreless first innings for both teams, both offenses got red-hot in the second and third innings. The Dodgers started in the top of the second, when Joc Pederson singled home Justin Turner to take a 1-0 lead. With Pederson on first and Corey Seager on second and nobody out, Austin Barnes and Gavin Lux both struck out, bringing up Walker Buehler for what looked like the end of the inning. But Buehler hit a 395-foot shot into the left field stands, extending the Dodger lead to 4-0 with his second career home run.

The Phillies brought a few back in the bottom of the second on a two-run Odubel Herrera home run. But the Dodgers added some insurance in the top of the third when Corey Seager hit a solo shot in the top of the third to make it 5-2.

As has often been the case this year, everything blew up for Walker Buehler soon after. He gave up three runs on four hits in the bottom of the third, including a two-run double for Didi Gregorius that tied the game 5-5.

Through three innings, Buehler was approaching 70 pitches, with eight hits given up and a four-run lead officially evaporated. It looked like our hopes of having a limited bullpen game were dashed, but Buehler powered through with three scoreless innings to finish the day with five runs given up over six frames.

Both exhausted bullpens dueled from that point, getting into jams but getting out of them with no harm done (the Phillies stranded seven runners in this game, while the Dodgers stranded eight). Dylan Floro and Adam Kolarek combined to throw scoreless seventh and eighth innings, but when Kolarek was due up in the top of the ninth, we had to pinch hit for him.

Nothing came of that, much like most of the innings for the Dodger offense in this one, and it left us with a very tired Pedro Baez (the least tired reliever in our completely spent bullpen) to pitch the ninth of a tied game.

It ... did not go well. Baez quickly loaded the bases with nobody out, giving up two hits and a walk, but struck out Bryce Harper to give some hope back. But pinch hitter Jay Bruce hit a walk-off grand slam, clinching the game and series win for the Phillies at home.

Here’s the box score:

So yeah, another rough one. In his first game back from injury, Cody Bellinger went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and five runners left-on-base. He did get a crucial outfield assist, however, throwing out J.T. Realmuto at home while the game was still tied. And Buehler continues his struggles — he threw more good innings than bad ones today, but the bad innings were enough to lose a commanding early lead.

Next time, we start a three-game series against the Royals, and probably make even more temporary changes to our still exhausted bullpen. We’ve already brought back Stripling and Alexander, sending down Floro and Kolarek. Currently, Victor Gonzalez is the only arm fully rested in the bullpen.

The Game 1 pitching matchup: David Price (6-1, 3.40 ERA) up against Brad Keller (2-3, 3.52 ERA). See you then!