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Dodgers filling innings however they can at the moment

Michael Grove expected to debut Sunday

Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Dodgers will send Julio Urías on Saturday night against the Phillies, one day earlier than originally planned. But schedules had to be altered after Clayton Kershaw went on the injured list Friday.

Walker Buehler allowed five runs on nine hits, both season highs, in five innings on Friday in four days rest. Urías will be pitching on four days rest on Saturday. Dodgers starters have pitched nine times on four days rest through their first 31 games, a total in the bottom half of the league.

Dodgers-Phillies lineups

Pos Phillies Pos Dodgers
Pos Phillies Pos Dodgers
1B Hoskins RF Betts
3B Bohm 1B Freeman (L)
DH Harper (L) SS Turner
RF Castellanos DH Smith
2B Segura 3B Turner
C Realmuto LF Taylor
LF Schwarber (L) CF Bellinger (L)
SS Camargo (S) 2B Alberto
CF Quinn (S) C Barnes
Julio Urías & Ranger Suárez on the mound

All of those starts don’t show up in a Baseball Reference search, since first starts of the season don’t take into account the date of final spring starts, and minor league appearances aren’t factored in. So they didn’t capture Tony Gonsolin’s first start of the year, on April 9 in Colorado, nor Ryan Pepiot’s major league debut on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, both on four days rest.

Dodgers starters on four days rest this season have a 4.20 ERA and a 21.6-percent strikeout rate. In all other starts, the ERA is 1.61 with a 23.6-percent strikeout rate. It’s in no way reasonable to expect that minuscule ERA on extra rest to continue, but it’s no secret that, given how the team has used its starting pitchers the last several years, extra rest is usually preferred.

An innings crunch has arrived thanks to a confluence of events, among them 31 games in 30 days, plus the injury to Kershaw altering plans. But the bullpen has also faltered of late, allowing 18 runs in 19 innings over five games this week, after allowing 27 runs in 93 their first 93 innings of the season.

The bullpen getting used a lot this week means a bunch of pitchers have been especially taxed of late. Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vesia each pitched three of the last four days. Phil Bickford did so earlier in the week, and also pitched an inning on Friday. Tommy Kahnle pitched Friday and, outside of a single-batter appearance in the minors has yet to pitch on back-to-back days this season.

There’s also the next few days that will tax the pitching staff further. The Dodgers need a starter to vill the hole left vacant with Kershaw on the injured list. That role Sunday will apparently go to Michael Grove, who was added to the 40-man roster in November and has yet to pitch above Double-A.

Grove has improved his control this season, posting a 2.76 ERA and 32.8-percent strikeout rate in five starts for Tulsa, cutting his walk rate from 12.4 percent last year to 7.4 percent this season.

A doubleheader is coming Tuesday, which will require another starter, but that sure seems like a time for Pepiot to make start number two, even if it’s only a temporary stay.

In other words, the Dodgers could use some innings tonight from Urías, who has pitched exactly six innings in each of his last three starts. Perhaps if the left-hander is through six innings in this one on just 65 pitches, to use a hypothetical example, it might behoove Dave Roberts to leave him in for a bit.

It seems likely some reliever who pitches Saturday could be sent down Sunday to make room for Grove, and Grove might very well be optioned Monday to make room for another reliever. But before we can worry about Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, the Dodgers have to get through Saturday first.

Game info

  • Teams: Dodgers (20-11) vs. Phillies (16-17)
  • Pitchers: Julio Urías vs. Ranger Suárez
  • Location: Dodger Stadium
  • Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
  • TV: SportsNet LA