One week before the Dodgers' NLDS schedule begins and a few days before their opponent is uncovered, Los Angeles' braintrust reportedly remains torn on how they'll be handling beleaguered mid-rotation starter Lance Lynn.
Lynn arrived in LA at the 2023 trade deadline in what was supposed to be the first of a few rotation additions. The burly right-hander was in the midst of a harrowing home run campaign, and struggled to find his footing for a dead-in-the-water Chicago club after returning from the World Baseball Classic.
Unfortunately, further reinforcements were not actually on the horizon; Eduardo Rodriguez of the Tigers declined a trade to Hollywood, which put further pressure on Lynn's right shoulder. The fiery veteran mostly delivered; he finished an up-and-mainly-down campaign with a 4.36 ERA in LA after posting a 6.47 mark with the White Sox. Oddly, though, his strikeout totals went down as he prospered further. Lynn whiffed 144 men in 119.2 innings in the AL, indicating to the Dodgers that a bounce back was coming. Instead, he struck out just 47 in his time with Los Angeles, ending the season on the bereavement list after giving one final middle finger to the San Francisco Giants.
Lance Lynn Dodgers playoff roster role not assured as Wild Card Round begins
Now, with the playoffs on the horizon (and a week between competition for the Dodgers to regroup), Dave Roberts admits he's not sure which role Lynn will snag in October. This rotation has precious few sure things, but the 36-year-old innings eater won't be one of them.
"“I don’t know yet. I did have a conversation with him weeks ago, as far as once we get to the postseason, everything is on the table. Right now I see him as a starter, but we’re going to have some conversations, given who the potential opponent will be. I don’t know right now, but right now he’s a starter.”"- Dave Roberts
Lynn appears guaranteed to make the roster, but might not know his ultimate fate until Game 3 of the NLDS approaches.
The Dodgers earned a week's worth of rest long before they captured their 100th victory of the season on Sunday. But it's possible this runaway NL West champion has more in flux than any postseason contender in the modern era. Outside of Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Will Smith, who bats where? Game 3 starter? Never heard of him! Maybe it'll be Lynn. Maybe it'll be a borderline child. Either way, four impressive innings is the expected standard.
If things had gone a bit differently in August, we'd be penciling a reticent E-Rod in there and worrying about his devotion to Dodger Blue. Instead, everything's up for grabs. Not the way anyone drew it up, but the mystique keeps working.