ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers will rely on the same threesome in their starting rotation that got them to the National League Championship Series – Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and “optionality.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday that Buehler will start Game 1 against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, with Kershaw getting the assignment in…Dodgers will go with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw in NLCS Games 1 and 2 — Daily News
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers will rely on the same threesome in their starting rotation that got them to the National League Championship Series – Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and “optionality.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday that Buehler will start Game 1 against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, with Kershaw getting the assignment in Game 2, the same way the Dodgers began each of their two previous playoff rounds.
As far as Games 3, 4 and (potentially) 5 – they will cross that bridge when they come to it. As they were in the NL Division Series sweep of the San Diego Padres, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urias could appear in relief before they make a start later in the series.
“I just don’t think that it just makes sense for us to close optionality in Games 1 and 2 and 3 and 4,” Roberts said. “So I think that for us – we know (the starters in Games) 1 and 2 and I honestly don’t know who 3, 4 and 5 are.
“I think that until we need to answer that question – I’ll feel good about it, but right now I just don’t feel the need.”
In the NLDS, May pitched two scoreless innings in relief in Game 1, then started Game 3 but pitched only one inning. It was a way to maximize his impact on multiple games, Roberts said, instead of limiting him to one game as a starter.
Urias has pitched once in each of the first two postseason series, appearing as a “bulk” innings pitcher in relief of another starter. He has been effective in that role, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and a walk while striking out 11 in eight innings.
The left-hander could appear in a similar swing role this series, Roberts indicated.
“Absolutely,” he said. “He’s going to pitch very meaningful innings.”
Gonsolin was set to start Game 4 if the Padres had extended the NLDS, but he has not pitched in a game since Sept. 26 (the next-to-last game of the regular season). He was scheduled to throw four or five innings in a simulated game to Dodgers hitters Saturday, Roberts said.
Edwin Rios was dropped from the Dodgers’ active roster for the NLDS after suffering a minor groin injury during the Dodgers’ workout last Sunday. Roberts said Rios has recovered enough to take batting practice and run at “about 75 percent.”
The Dodgers do not have to make a decision on adding Rios back to the roster for the NLCS until Monday.
“So we still have some time on that,” Roberts said.
FANS IN STANDS
The Dodgers and Braves will play in front of a paying crowd for the first time this season Monday. Approximately 11,500 tickets have been made available to the public for the NLCS games (and the World Series).
Tickets were sold in “pods” of four and no seats will be within 20 feet of a spot on the field, dugout or bullpen where any player could be located. Masks are mandatory except when fans are “actively” eating or drinking in their seats. Officials are expected to have the roof at Globe Life Field open for all of the games unless the weather makes that impractical.
Similar arrangements have been used to allow a limited number of fans into stadiums for football games over the past month. Even with the precautions, however, the possibility exists that allowing 11,500 fans into the stadium could result in a coronavirus spread.
“I’m not thinking about that. I’m hoping that isn’t the case,” said Roberts, who has been quarantined with his players and coaching staff at a local resort since arriving in Texas. “I know we’re excited about having fans here. I’m sure there’s going to be the right protocols to keep them away from us, however they get into the ballpark. I don’t know who qualifies. But that’s not really front of mind for me.”