Athletics @ Dodgers September 24, 2020: Buehler returns in the series finale

The Dodgers lost last night, and today face the possibility of losing their second series of the season. Wins don’t super matter for the Dodgers right now, as they’ve clinched the only postseason home field advantage possible (in the first round) and their eighth consecutive division title. Unless my math is wrong, the Dodgers have also clinched the best record in the National League. The only thing that really matters now is health for the postseason, which makes tonights game fairly important.

6:40 p.m. Los Angeles
2B La Stella (L) RF Betts
LF Grossman (S) SS Seager (L)
SS Semien 3B Turner
1B Olsen (L) 1B Muncy (L)
DH Canha C Smith
CF Laureano CF Bellinger (L)
3B Lamb (L) LF Pollock
RF Piscotty DH Pederson (L)
C Murphy 2B Taylor
P Fiers (R) P Buehler (R)

Walker Buehler returns to likely make his last regular season appearance of 2020. Buehler’s health is the key concern for the Dodgers right now. He’s been dealing with a blister for about a month. He struggled in his last outing, lasting only 2 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks as his blister flared up in a rough third inning. The Dodgers have already stated he will start in the first round of the playoffs, so it’s decently important for him to come out of today’s start healthy.

American hero Mike Fiers starts for Oakland today. Fiers was in the news this offseason as the whistleblower in the Astros cheating scandal, so it’s a shame we don’t get to see the ovation he would get in a packed Dodger Stadium tonight.

Fiers has struggled this season, with a 4.67 ERA/4.85 FIP in 54 innings. He’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, but Fiers is currently running a 14.5 percent strikeout rate, the fourth-worst among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched. Fiers has struck out more than five in a game only once this season, but his current 4.67 ERA is the lowest it’s been all season. Last time out, Fiers allowed seven hits and only one run in six innings at Coors Field.

Fiers has had success against the Dodgers in the past. He made his first start as an A against the Dodgers on August 8, 2018. Fiers allowed a run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings while racking up eight strikeouts. He hadn’t seen the Dodgers since 2015, when he threw a no-hitter against the Dodgers as a member of the Astros.

Fiers has one of the slowest average fastball velocities in baseball this season, with a four-seamer that averages only 87.9 MPH. His sinker averages a tick more than that, but so far this season he’s most often thrown his slider (29.1 percent of the time).

Justin Turner starts at third for the second consecutive game. No word yet on whether he’ll be taken out at some point today.

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Buehler’s roster move was announced earlier.

Mitch White was optioned to make room for Buehler. White hadn’t appeared in a game since he tossed two shutout innings in Colorado on September 18.

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The Dodgers finish off the regular season with three games against the Angels.

Clayton Kershaw will start tomorrow in his final tune up before the postseason. The starters for Saturday and Sunday are still unknown. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May will pitch both of those days, but might come in in a bulk role as Julio Urias did yesterday. Hopefully the Dodgers don’t need a third starter until the second round of the playoffs.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PDT and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.