After 18 meetings with the San Diego Padres so far this season, and a 13-5 record against them, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally end the regular season series Thursday night as Brusdar Graterol opens for Andrew Heaney against reliever Steven Wilson, with the poor, poor Sean Manaea possibly getting some innings after that.
Now holding a franchise record 107 wins after last night, as well as the best record in the National League, the Dodgers really just have home field to clinch in a potential World Series appearance. Up by 5.5 games over the Astros with seven to play (six for the Houston), Eric Stephen thankfully posted the explanation of how the Dodgers secure that tiebreaker/clinch as well.
With the NL playoff bracket currently set for the No. 4 and No. 5 to play in the Wild Card Round before facing the No. 1-seeded Dodgers in the NLDS, the Padres would currently be in line to play the Dodgers should they beat the Braves, who at worst will be the No. 4 seed, or the Mets should Atlanta catch them for the NL East title. I sort of have a hard time seeing the Padres falling down to No. 6 behind the Phillies or potentially Brewers, so it seems they are going to be a few victories away from extending the 19 meetings this year into the postseason.
|6:40 PM||San Diego|
|SS||T. Turner||RF||Soto (L)|
|P||Graterol (R)||P||Wilson (R)|
The Dodgers had a late change to the lineup today, with Trayce Thompson originally scheduled to be in left field.
As every Dodger beat reporter tweeted after the game last night Graterol will open Thursday’s game with Heaney following somewhere behind to possibly test out the plan for the playoffs.
Appearing in 43 games this season, including a career high 46 2/3 innings, Graterol has never been better with the Dodgers. A continued increase on the usage of his cutter (8.2% in 2021 to 28% in 2022) and four-seam fastball (2.3% to 11.9%) to supplement the sinker (58.6% down to 41.3%) and slider (31% down to 18.8%) helped the K% move to 22.4%, his best in the majors as a Dodger and a 5.5 BB%, his best since 23 1/3 innings in 2020. Allowing batters to hit .200, Graterol’s got his best average allowed in the majors so far in his career and the best GB% of his career at 63.6%.
That GB% ranks 6th in baseball among pitchers with at least 40 innings this season, thanks mostly to the sinker. Ranking 9th in baseball with a RV/100 of -3.6 among pitches in a minimum of 50 PAs this season, Graterol’s sinker trails only Dillon Tate‘s by that measure this season. FanGraphs has Graterol’s fastball at 2.20 on the per 100 pitch basis as well for pitcher with at least 40 innings this year.
Obviously the trouble has been keeping Graterol around, as he pitched nine games in April, 10 in May and 13 in June before missing two/thirds of July and most of August where he combined for five appearances between July 2 and July 10 as well as four between Aug. 22 and Aug. 28. Then the gap from Aug. 28 until Sept. 22, where Graterol has returned and struck out two in two appearances of 2.0 innings.
Meanwhile, Heaney also has had one of his best seasons in the majors when he has been on the mound, holding a 3.06 ERA/3.98 FIP/ 2.93 xFIP which would be the best of his career/third best/second best across nine major league seasons.
Pulling somewhat of the opposite of Graterol, Heaney started two games in April, one in June and one in July before getting six April starts and this will be the fifth appearance of September, the first out of the bullpen. The 0.47 ERA/2.39 FIP of the four April/June/July starts has given way for the 5.50 ERA/5.78 FIP of the four September starts. If the real results landed somewhere in the six August starts of a 3.29 ERA/3.92 FIP, the team would probably take that at this point, but Heaney’s 13 home runs allowed this season looks a little worse as four game on Sept. 5 against the Giants and another three came on Aug. 18 at the Brewers.
All four of those homers to the Giants came in the second run through the order (in fact, five of the six hits he allowed were in the second time through) while the Brewers hit one each time through, two for Andrew McCutchen and one for Hunter Renfroe. Nine of the 13 homers have come against Heaney’s fastball, which makes sense as he’s thrown it 62.6% of the time this season compared to 32.9% for his slider and 4.5% for his change-up used only against right-handed batters. Really that’s nothing out of the ordinary for his career, with 17 of 26 homers allowed last season were on fastballs and seven of nine in 2020.
Primarily using a sinker from 2019 back to the beginning of his major league career, Heaney had the same issue with 11 of 20 in 2019 off the sinker, 17 of 27 in 2019, eight of 12 in 2018, etc. He’s never thrown a primary pitch less than 57.8 percent with this year’s secondary pitch (the slider) being the highest it’s ever been.
I know I am really stating the obvious here, but with Heaney throwing effectively two pitches all season, it’s been pretty important to get ahead in the count. Using the slider at 47.6% when at 0-2, it’s got a Whiff% of 72.7%. At 1-2, the slider leads the fastball with a 47.9% usage (40.6 Whiff%) and at 2 strikes all combined the slider is at a 45.1 Whiff%
Sitting at 44.4 Whiff%, a .149 BA/.298 SLG/.225 wOBA, Heaney’s slider is pretty clearly doing most of the work this season.
As for the Padres starter, they didn’t announce it when I was working on this post last night, but it’s Wilson (2.88 ERA/4.14 FIP/4.60 xFIP) for some amount of time. Wilson has faced the Dodgers seven times this season, with somehow five of those coming since Sept. 2, and has allowed 7 Ks, 3 BBs and 4 hits in 7 1/3 innings this season
More importantly, if Manaea does appear he has the opportunity to add to this from Sept. 3:
Mercifully, that ended Manaea’s day at 4 1/3 innings with another eight runs allowed on nine hits and a walk to bring his season total to 25 runs, 24 earned in just 12 2/3 innings this season.
A few Twitter updates on some of the injured Dodgers.
As for the upcoming six-game series against the Rockies that we will look back at in 10 years incredibly confused, here’s the first few projected starters.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on SportsNet LA.