Lance LynnThe home run problems are still not solved. And the Dodgers’ pitching problems don’t seem to be either.
A day after Clayton Kershaw appeared restricted due to shoulder problems, and hours after Julio Urías was placed on administrative leave following his arrest Sunday night on suspicion of domestic violence, the Dodgers watched as Lynn played in another potential October on Wednesday -Competition was struggling fiercely 11-4 loss for the Miami Marlins.
In his second difficult start in a row, following a seven-run game against the Atlanta Braves last week, Lynn finished at the bottom of fifth place at LeanDepot Park.
He gave up three homers in the inning, bringing his MLB peak to 40. He was penalized for two more runs after leaving with two outs, bringing his ERA back to over 6.00 after eight runs and 4⅔ innings.
And most troubling of all, he barely looked like a pitcher the Dodgers could trust in the postseason — another question mark for their increasingly makeshift pitching team.
“Just an absolute disaster,” said Lynn. “I blew up. That can’t happen.”
When Lynn was taken over at the close of trading, he was expected to just gobble up innings. The Dodgers always hoped for more, expecting his blistering home run rate to normalize and his competitiveness in a playoff race to blossom. But as far as October went, Lynn didn’t seem likely to be a factor, even after a promising 1.44 ERA in his first four starts with the team.
By Wednesday, however, circumstances had changed.
Urías may not be back on the field this season. Kershaw’s performance appears to have been hampered by his ongoing shoulder injury.
And suddenly, during his pregame media crush hours before the first pitch, manager Dave Roberts was considering Lynn’s potential role in the playoff roster, leaving the veteran with the option of either starting games or pitching big innings from the bullpen.
Based on subsequent performance, the safer answer might be neither.
After four scoreless innings early in the game, Lynn was beset by an onslaught from the Marlins, who started the night ranked 25th in the majors in points standings and without one of his best hitters, Jorge Soler, who was pre-game on the injured list was set.
No. 9 hitter Joey Wendle started the offense with a two-run home run and turned an elevated fastball to the right on a line drive. After a few walks, Jazz Chisholm Jr. opened the inning with a three-run moonshot to the left. Two batters later, Jesús Sánchez added a solo attack as an encore.
“I’ve been pitching far too long,” said Lynn, a 12-year veteran, “to have an inning like that.”
Lynn is averaging 2.5 homers per nine innings with the Dodgers, an incredible increase from his 2.1 with the Chicago White Sox earlier in the year.
He’s hit just five batters in his last three games, losing the swing-and-miss weapon that has made him an attractive target for the Dodgers. And since that strong four-game introduction, he’s quickly fallen behind in three starts, finishing Thursday with a 10.80 ERA in that span.
“Certainly the results weren’t good,” Roberts said. “But I don’t have an answer for the home run ball, other than the missed execution.”
“When you’re over 30, who gives…?” he was blank. “I had years where I didn’t give up and I was a much worse pitcher. That’s the crazy thing about this game.”
When asked if he could still trust Lynn to start a playoff game, Roberts replied, “Yes,” noting that Lynn, who is averaging just 92.4 mph with his fastball, “still has it in terms of speed.” have a lot in the tank” that he can fall back on next October.
“[We need to be] “If we’re going to see the high-end Pitch 1 material,” Roberts said, adding, “Where we’re at right now, we’re going to have to rely on him a little bit too.”
In fact, given all of the other uncertainties weighing on the Dodgers’ pitching right now, getting Lynn back on track is a far greater priority than they could have imagined when they took him on.
And if Wednesday were any indication, it could be another formidable obstacle for a team suffering many of them with five losses in their last six games in the final month of the season.