LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have spent most of the last three weeks explaining that their pitching plan this October will be unconventional, with various combinations of pitchers in some cases rather than the standard starting-pitcher-heavy method.
“Look, that’s what we have to do. That’s where we’re at as a team. I think it’s a great thing, I really do,” said Clayton Kershaw, who will start Game 1 in the traditional sense, the last pitcher standing from the starting rotation to open the year.
“There’s no egos about it. We’re just going to go out there and pitch,” Kershaw added. “It might look a little different than it has in years past, but it might work.”
After Kershaw in Game 1 will be rookie Bobby Miller in Game 2, another starter in the traditional sense, and one the Dodgers will lean on this postseason.
As for Game 3, the Dodgers aren’t willing to commit that far into the future just yet. But they will have multiple options. Lance Lynn, who pitched four innings against Dodgers hitters in a scrimmage on Thursday, is “in play” to pitch the first game at Chase Field in Phoenix, next Wednesday, October 11.
Enter Ryan Pepiot, he of the 2.14 ERA in 42 innings in the final six weeks of the season. Pepiot threw four simulated innings of his own on Friday. He is also “in play” for Game 3, manager Dave Roberts said on Friday.
“To what end, in what capacity, I just don’t know right now,” Roberts said. “Ryan’s been great. Versus right, versus left, the head, the throwing, all that stuff, he’s really checked a lot of boxes and really grown.”
Whether the Dodgers decide to piggyback Lynn and Pepiot in some order in Game 3, or whether they are competing for one start, their simulated games Thursday and Friday basically take both out of play to pitch in relief in Games 1 or 2.
That could bode well, roster-wise, for Emmet Sheehan, who excelled in September, his mid-90s fastball and change from the right side almost tailor made to follow the left-handed Kershaw if they need bulk relief in Game 1.
Miller and Pepiot will give the Dodgers two rookies on the NLDS roster, which will be revealed on Saturday morning. Sheehan and Michael Grove could also join them. Aside from Miller starting in Game 2, we don’t yet know how the rookies will be deployed.
“Yeah, we have rookies in our starting rotation, but when you have the rookies that are those kind of rookies, you feel good about them, because they’re quality people,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman. “They’re awesome to be in the clubhouse with and they have great arms. So I think we feel confident with our group.”