With no margin for error and the Dodgers needing to win to keep their season alive, they will start Walker Buehler in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. He’ll be pitching on three days rest for the first time in his professional career.
Buehler threw 99 pitches in 6⅓ innings in Game 1 on Friday in San Francisco, allowing three runs in a loss, his first loss in 10 postseason starts. That start was his second straight on four days rest, something he’s done in 14 of his 34 starts this season. In his major league career only 27 of his 106 starts have come on four days rest, with the other 79 starts coming with five or more days off in between.
The five-game Division Series format lends itself to at least considering a starter on three days rest. With two days off built into the schedule, the Dodgers can turn to Game 2 starter Julio Urías on regular, four days rest in Game 5. But first they have to win Game 4.
“Everything is on the table,” manager Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers’ 1-0 loss in Game 3. “Our focus has to turn to tomorrow, and whatever it takes to win tomorrow, and then we’ll kind of pick up the pieces after that.”
Buehler had a 2.47 ERA and 3.16 FIP with 212 strikeouts this season, setting career highs in innings (207⅔) and starts (33). With his Game 1 start, his odometer is up to 214 innings on the year. So he’ll likely have some help in Game 4.
With an off day in between Games 4 and 5, the Dodgers can be aggressive with their bullpen. Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen were the only Dodgers relievers to pitch on Monday, throwing 15 and 14 pitches, respectively, the only appearance over the last five days for both pitchers. The Dodgers will also have Tony Gonsolin available in some capacity should they need some length.
“Not sure what the full role is yet, but I’m just ready to go out there and throw,” Gonsolin said Monday. “And when Doc says I’m done, then I’m done.”
But first, the Dodgers will need innings from Buehler, something they’ve counted on all season.
“I think he’s going to do what he has all year long. He’s gonna throw the ball really well,” Albert Pujols said of Buehler Monday. “I know he’s coming out on short rest, but I think he’s gonna be pretty excited, and the fans are really gonna be really excited.”