With the best record in baseball now secure, and home-field advantage through the World Series locked down, the Los Angeles Dodgers can work on getting healthy before the playoffs arrive.
It will be no easy task for the 2020 champions, who will send rookie right-hander Michael Grove to the mound Saturday night in the second game of a six-game home series against the Colorado Rockies.
Grove has been getting a chance to show what he can do with right-handers Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May on the injured list. Gonsolin (forearm) has been on a rehab assignment with the hopes of returning for an unknown role in the postseason. May (back) threw from a mound Friday and has not been ruled out for the playoffs.
Los Angeles right-handed reliever Blake Treinen (shoulder) also is close to a return, as is third baseman Justin Turner, who has missed most of the week with shin splints. But he could return as early as Saturday.
“There’s a little bit of kind of bubble-wrapping guys to get ready for the postseason,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But there is also the part of it that you’re getting ready for another season and you want to be playing good baseball going into that part of it.”
Roberts expects to play his starters for much of the extended series against the Rockies since the Dodgers (109-48) will have a long wait before the National League Division Series begins on Oct. 11. Also left to decide is who will get preference in the outfield alongside Mookie Betts.
Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, Cody Bellinger and Joey Gallo all are outfield options, with Bellinger and Taylor combining for five hits at the bottom of the order Friday. Bellinger hit his first home run since Aug. 21.
“Players want to play; players need to play,” Roberts said about player usage down the stretch. “We’re trying to win as many games as we can. But there certainly is a fine balance.”
Grove (1-0, 4.07 ERA), who will make his seventh career appearance and sixth career start, will face the Rockies for the first time. He is coming off his first career win Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals when he gave up one run over five innings.
Colorado (65-92), which has lost six in a row, will counter with Kyle Freeland (9-11, 4.63). The left-hander is coming off his shortest outing of the season Sunday at home against the San Diego Padres when he gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over 2 2/3 innings.
In four starts against the Dodgers this season, Freeland is 2-2 with a 6.33 ERA. In 20 career starts against them, he is 5-9 with a 4.53 ERA. He has just one win in eight starts at L.A. but does have a 3.81 ERA.
Freeland will look to set the tone for a Rockies club that has lost 10 of its last 11 games following Friday’s 10-1 defeat.
“Here’s the deal — we have a lot of young players,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The offense has been down for a number of reasons, but we’re playing a lot of young players and when these guys are facing … major league pitchers, there’s a learning curve that they got to get through.
“These guys aren’t going to do what they did in Triple A. This is the big leagues, but they’re learning.”
–Field Level Media