After experimenting with pitching strategies this week, and nearly coming away with a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays while doing it, the Los Angeles Dodgers figure to return to a more traditional look at home against the Colorado Rockies.
One problem, though. The Dodgers still have not announced a starter for Friday’s series opener as they sort through the pieces of their two-game set against the American League wild-card-contending Rays. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw (14-5, 3.05 ERA) is the likely starter.
The Dodgers used eight pitchers to cover nine innings in a victory Tuesday, then nine pitches to cover 11 innings in a defeat Wednesday, with one worrisome theme still resonating. Closer Kenley Jansen blew his eighth save opportunity while his ERA rose to 3.81.
“I didn’t have it. I sucked,” Jansen told reporters after struggling Wednesday following a trio of solid recent outings. “You can’t control the outcome. Yes, the command wasn’t what it was the last three games, but you just can’t let this one frustrate you.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts continues to say he does not intend to remove Jansen from the closer role.
“(Jansen) didn’t have the command he had the last few times out, and when you don’t, you get exposed,” Roberts said. “I don’t think it was a setback. Kenley’s in a good place.”
Friday’s series opener starts a stretch of nine games to close the season for the Dodgers, all against National League West opponents who are not in wild-card contention. Third baseman Justin Turner is expected to come back from a left ankle sprain during the series, but he is not expected to play Friday.
At 98-55, the Dodgers are two games behind the Houston Astros for best record in the major leagues.
The Rockies enter a late-season matchup at Dodger Stadium in a far different place than last year. Colorado pushed the Dodgers to a deciding 163rd game last season before Los Angeles prevailed with another division title and a second consecutive appearance in the World Series.
The Rockies have long been out of the chase this year, and they start the weekend with a 66-87 record and a spot in last place in the division.
Rookie right-hander Peter Lambert (3-6, 6.98 ERA) will get his 19th start Friday, five days after he gave up five runs in five innings to beat the San Diego Padres. He has a 9.56 ERA in four starts going back to Aug. 28.
Lambert has faced the Dodgers three times this season, going 0-1 with an 11.12 ERA. He last faced the seven-time division champs on Sept. 2 in Colorado, when he gave up six runs on eight hits in a season-low 1 2/3 innings.
Sam Hilliard, a September call-up for the Rockies, will enter Friday off a two-homer game against the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. He will look to make a further impression before the offseason begins.
“I was trying to be as relaxed as I could, and I think the game is finally starting to slow down a little bit,” Hilliard said. “I was lucky enough to get a few pitches I could handle, and they ended up carrying out.”
Kershaw is 22-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 41 career starts against the Rockies, but he lost his only start against them this season. Kershaw gave up five runs, four earned, and seven hits in seven innings of Colorado’s 5-3 win in Denver on June 29.
–Field Level Media