The ALDS continued on Sunday, but all four NL teams had the day off between Games 1 and 2. Play will resume for them on Monday, while the ALDS will start back up again on Tuesday to accommodate travel.
Los Angeles Dodgers fans questioned why this was the schedule, but now, after the disaster in Game 1 that saw Clayton Kershaw surrender six runs in just 0.1 innings of work, it could actually be an absolute savior.
Kershaw failed to give LA any length. Many feared he wouldn't be able to go past 4-5 innings, but the fact he couldn't even record two outs strained the bullpen in a flash. Manager Dave Roberts called on five other relievers to clean up the mess, which may have put the team in peril if Bobby Miller ran into some trouble in a theoretical Sunday game.
Roberts, in an 11-2 Game 1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, ended up using Emmet Sheehan, Shelby Miller, Michael Grove, Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson. Not ideal burning two of your long relief options, two lefties, and Miller, who's regarded as a key high-leverage option (but definitely needed the work since he hasn't pitched since Sept. 28).
Instead of a quick turnaround with a game on Sunday, the Dodgers' pitching staff will get an extra day to take a breather and recoup for a potential all-hands-on-deck situation Monday night.
Dodgers saved (for now) by random off day in between NLDS Game 1 and 2
The Dodgers would've still been capable of capturing Game 2 on Sunday with Miller starting and enough arms ready to go behind him, but a breather feels all-important here. It gives the Dodgers more options for Monday. It cools off the hot D-backs, who somehow found their groove against the Brewers in Milwaukee despite dropping their final four games of the regular season and only scoring three runs over that span.
Nonetheless, the Dodgers' biggest strength all year was their offense. Their biggest strength during the second half was their bullpen, which pulled off a massive turnaround after a terrible first few months of 2023. Any and all rest at this juncture will pay off, and any chance to cool off a suddenly hot overachieving opponent could potentially shift things back in the Dodgers' favor.
Don't get us wrong, this was the worst-case scenario outcome for the Dodgers. Kershaw's postseason demons returned in a frightening manner. The bullpen used five pitchers. The offense had no chance to respond after a quick 6-0 deficit and eventually lost to a pitcher who was 0-11 against them lifetime. A rookie will be tasked with saving them in Game 2.
If things do go the Dodgers' way, though, look no further than MLB's scheduling. The off day everybody was upset about might actually keep them from spiraling after Kershaw's historic dud.