With the playoffs quickly approaching, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler will get a chance to work on overcoming adversity when he takes the mound against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
At 13-3 with a 3.15 ERA, there is little that has given Buehler problems this season, but the Rockies’ offense is one group that has given him fits. Buehler has given up two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts. The one where he didn’t was Sept. 2 when he gave up six earned runs on eight hits over five innings to the Rockies.
The outing marked the second-most earned runs he has given up all season for the Dodgers (99-55). His season high is seven, on June 27 — against the Rockies, against whom he is 3-0 this season.
Buehler has a 5.84 ERA against the Rockies this season and a 2.70 mark against all other opponents. He is 4-1 lifetime against Colorado in 14 appearances (10 starts) with a 4.12 ERA, his highest against any National League West opponent.
His issues with Colorado do not have the Dodgers worried, though, as they head toward the NL Division Series. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts altered his rotation Friday to have Buehler pitch Saturday, with Hyun-Jin Ryu moved from Saturday to Sunday.
It appears that the move lines up Buehler to pitch in Game 1 of the NLDS on Oct. 3, with Ryu lined up for Game 2 the following day against an opponent that still is to be determined. Clayton Kershaw would figure to be available for Game 3 on the road on Oct. 6.
Roberts would not confirm nor deny that Buehler was being aimed toward the Dodgers’ playoff opener, instead leaving himself wiggle room to alter the plan again.
“Things can change,” Roberts told reporters Friday.
The Rockies (66-88) will counter with right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez (1-6, 6.23), who is starting to find some consistency in his return from Tommy John surgery. Gonzalez has averaged 100 pitches over his last three starts and he has not given up more than two earned runs in any of them.
He is 1-0 in September with a 2.20 ERA and will enter off an outing Sunday against the San Diego Padres when he was not necessarily efficient, but gave up just one run over four innings of a no-decision.
Gonzalez has a 4.35 ERA over two starts (10 1/3 innings) against the Dodgers this season and does not have a decision against Los Angeles in three career starts, with a 3.38 ERA.
Expected to be in the Rockies’ cleanup spot for the eighth time in the last nine games is Charlie Blackmon, who is starting to thrive there. The former leadoff hitter hit a first-inning home run against Kershaw on Friday and will get consideration to be the No. 4 hitter next season.
“I kind of like it,” Blackmon said, according to MLB.com. “It puts me in a situation to where I can have a quality at-bat and not necessarily get a hit, drive in a run with a sac fly. I do get pitched differently. It’s made me better. I’ve had to get better with my strike zone.”
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who has been out with a sprained left ankle, is scheduled to start Saturday for the first time since Sept. 7 against the San Francisco Giants. He made his first appearance in nearly two weeks as a pinch hitter Friday and walked.
–Field Level Media