Dodgers’ postseason rotation plans coming into focus

It’s probably more of a hope than a guarantee at this point, but the Dodgers’ playoff rotation plans finally seem to be coming into focus.

Ahead of Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, manager Dave Roberts said the team would like to have a four-man rotation when the National League Division Series postseason begins Oct. 11.

Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw look like suspensions for Game 1 and 2. Tyler Anderson will also start a game, Roberts reiterated Tuesday, before the left-hander put up six strong innings at Petco Park.

Fourth place is a bit up in the air. However, if all goes well over the next few weeks, it’s possible Tony Gonsolin is back from a forearm strain and ready to tackle a start, according to Roberts.

“That’s the hope,” Roberts said.

It seemed to be getting lighter on Tuesday evening.

While the Dodgers were opening their streak in San Diego — losing the game in the 10th inning after Craig Kimbrel led Jorge Alfaro with loaded bases — Gonsolin threw two scoreless innings in a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He gave up just one hit in the 27-pitch outing, averaging 92.6 mph with his fastball and utilizing all four pitches in his arsenal. After that, he also worked a bit in the bullpen.

As long as he recovers well over the next few days, Gonsolin’s next outing could be back with the Dodgers, who are hoping to put him back in the rotation next week against the Colorado Rockies in what would be his first big-league appearance since he suffered before one Month from his forearm strain.

If Gonsolin stays on course, he could be stretched back to four innings by the time the NLDS starts.

Of course, that all depends on whether the Dodgers have the best of luck health-wise over the next few weeks, something they haven’t experienced much of in the second half of the season.

Walker Buehler was lost to Tommy John’s surgery. Blake Treinen is struggling with ongoing shoulder problems that have put his post-season availability in question (the right-hander played Catch Tuesday again but admitted he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the NLDS).

And Dustin May remains uncertain with a lower back strain, although Roberts said he was closer to returning than Treinen.

Dodgers pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate.

Dodgers pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks September 21 at Dodger Stadium.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

They’ve gotten some bullpen arms back lately – Brusdar Graterol, Tommy Kahnle, David Price (who activated Tuesday) and Yency Almonte (who rejoined the team Tuesday and will activate Wednesday). Andrew Heaney could also be added to that mix, with Roberts pointing out that Heaney could follow an opener in his planned outing Thursday as a potential playoff relief duty tryout.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Dodgers’ biggest linchpin on the October mound will be their starting rotation — which, at best, could offer sufficient length setting up an easy bullpen plan.

“If we get to the end of the season and see where we’re at, then I think that drill would be a lot more productive,” Roberts said when asked if the team is already making contingency plans based on who might be on available on the hill.

He added: “The way things have been going this year, it’s kind of a pointless endeavor [right now].”

As they wait for their injury situation to resolve itself, the Dodgers know they will be relying on Anderson far more than they ever imagined when they signed the journeyman left-hander to a one-year, $8 million contract in spring training dollars signed .

On Tuesday he set himself the task.

After giving up two runs during a first inning in which his infield failed to turn a potential double play late in the inning, the wily veteran found a groove against a potential playoff opponent.

Between the second and sixth innings, he retired the last 15 batters he faced. He could have worked deeper into the game, but was substituted at the beginning of the seventh after 71 pitches.

He also remained fifth among qualified National League pitchers in earned run average and finished the night at a 2.54 mark over a team-high 173 2/3 innings.

“If you look at what he does regularly and what he’s produced this season,”
Assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness said: “It would be hard to tell him you don’t start with one [playoff] Game.” Dodgers’ postseason rotation plans coming into focus

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