Dodgers: The Dodgers’ Fourth Playoff Starter Remains Unclear
The Dodgers still have thirteen games left to see if they will make the playoffs. If the Dodgers do make the postseason, their fourth playoff starter remains unclear.
The Dodgers potential playoff rotation remains unclear. The first two rotation spots are set in stone with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler leading the pack. After that it looks like Hyun-Jin Ryu is the third playoff starter.
The Dodgers recently sent Alex Wood to the bullpen and reinserted Ross Stripling into the rotation. Stripling has posted an ERA over five in the second half of the season, and he needs to work his pitch count back up after returning from his back ailment. The Dodgers love to play match ups so who gets the ball as the fourth playoff starter might just depend on the opponent.
Alex Wood posted a 7.27 ERA in September as a starting pitcher, while Rich Hill has posted a 6.75 ERA. The big difference is that Wood has allowed an opponent’s batting average over .350 while Hill is holding batters to a respectable .210 batting average in September. Wood’s WHIP is also approaching 2.00 while Hill’s is 1.13.
Alex Wood has been one of the Dodgers’ best starting pitchers in the second half of the season posting a 2.98 ERA in the second half of the season but he appears to be wearing out his welcome in the rotation this month. With time running out in the regular season, the best bet for the Dodgers appears to be Alex Wood turning into a high leverage bullpen weapon.
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16Ross Stripling is going to get the start later on today as he begins to make his case for being a part of the Dodgers’ potential playoff rotation. Stripling has tailed off in the second half of the season as he’s put together a 5.40 ERA in the second half in just eighteen innings. Prior to the all-star break, Stripling had a 2.08 ERA and was one of the best starting pitchers in the NL outside of Jacob deGrom.
If Stripling can put together a string of solid outings these last two weeks of the regular season, he may do enough to convince the Dodgers to let him start in the playoffs. Should Stripling struggle, or suffer an injury setback then the fourth starter race becomes wide open again. Ross will get three starts for sure and maybe even four starts before the end of the regular season.
If the Dodgers choose to base their decision off of past playoff performances, Rich Hill will get the nod as he has been very good for the Dodgers in the postseason. In 2017, Hill posted a 3.46 ERA while last year he posted a 2.55 postseason ERA. Alex Wood has only been a playoff starter for the Dodgers one postseason which was last year and he put up a 2.92 ERA.
Regardless of who the Dodgers decide to go with as their fourth playoff starter, it’s unlikely they would even start a game until the second round of the playoffs if the Dodgers get there. In essentially a contract year, the Dodgers could push Clayton Kershaw to start on three days rest in the NLDS. The fourth playoff starter race will be an interesting race to watch the next two weeks.