Well everyone, we made it. The Dodgers feature the best record in baseball at 42-17, a 115 win pace. The team will play the Wild Card Series next week in Dodger Stadium, and should they advance, they would play the remainder of their games in Arlington, Texas at Globe Life Field. Victor Gonzalez will start for the Dodgers before Dustin May takes over and pitches the bulk of the innings. The left-handed Patrick Sandoval will make his sixth and final start of the season for the Angels.
|12:10 P.M.||Los Angeles|
|1B||Walsh (L)||SS||Seager (L)|
|DH||Ohtani (L)||1B||Muncy (L)|
|P||Sandoval (L)||P||Gonzalez (L)|
This continues to be mainly a tune up game heading into the postseason. The only priority here is health — beacuse of that, Will Smith will be at DH with Austin Barnes behind the plate. Mookie Betts will also sit this one out after being hit by a pitch in the first inning of the game last night. Chris Taylor starts at second, which likely seems to be his primary role in the playoffs. Cody Bellinger will also have the day off, as he’s shown he’s hitting extremely well again heading into the postseason. The Angels will sit both Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout on the season finale. Best of luck to those two next year, they deserve to be in the playoffs.
The 23 year-old Sandoval has had a rough year in his eight appearances and 34 innings thus far. He features a 5.56 ERA, 5.66 FIP, and a 1.32 WHIP. He faced the Dodgers earlier in the season, allowing four earned runs on six hits over six innings. However, he’s had two stints in long relief recently, where he’s totaled 7.1 innings, allowing just five hits and one run while striking out twelve. We’ll see how long he goes today, but a shorter outing might be more effective for Sandoval.
Victor Gonzalez has gone from being a pleasant surprise, to an integral piece in the Dodgers bullpen. There’s a valid argument that he’s been the best reliever on the team, and in my opinion it’s either him or Jake McGee. Gonzalez currently has a 1.40 ERA, 1.69 FIP, and a 0.72 WHIP. Among all MLB relievers with at least 20 IP, Gonzalez is fifth in FIP, seventh in ERA, and third in WHIP. Gonzalez is only two outs short of meeting that 20 inning threshold, but he’s been legitimately one of the top ten relievers in baseball.
With May pitching after Gonzalez, this sets him up to be available for the potential third game of the Wild Card Series on Friday October 2, should it be necessary. May has been solid all season, posting a 2.77 ERA, 4.80 FIP and a 1.10 WHIP. Among 110 pitchers with 40+ innings pitched, the difference between May’s 4.80 FIP and 2.77 ERA of -2.03 is the third largest discrepancy in the league. His .231 BABIP is the ninth lowest in the league, while his ground-ball rate of 53.2% is the tenth highest, so most the time he’ll naturally outperform his FIP. He trades high strikeout rates for weak contact and ground balls. He looks to close out his impressive season on a high note. His 2.77 ERA puts him just ahead of some dude named Gerrit Cole at 2.84.
In other news,
It’s crazy. The Dodgers could end up playing the Brewers, or the Giants, or the Phillies OR the Cardinals. Regardless, we’ll most likely know after today, barring the potential requirement of a double-header tomorrow for the Cardinals. As long as it’s not the Reds, it should be a favorable matchup.
It’s pretty astonishing that the team’s pitching staff has been this good top to bottom at avoiding hard contact.
After the Dodgers know who they’ll be playing in the Wild Card series, we’ll get a better sense of what the roster will look like.
After allowing just one hit over four innings while striking out six, assuming his blister is a non-issue, I would also start Walker Buehler game one. This also has the advantage of Smith in the lineup to start the series. Game one is crucial in a best of three, and the Dodgers best offensive lineup is one with Smith behind the plate and Barnes on the bench. Barnes will likely start game two as Clayton Kershaw will start that game. Ideally, the team gets a better matchup against the opponents #2 starter so Kershaw would have more run support, and the team would have the series lead so that they can feel comfortable with the offense with Barnes behind the plate. Smith has been such a good hitter this year, that it’s hard to see him not starting every game at either catcher or designated hitter.
First pitch is at 12:10 PT on SNLA.