Dodgers turn to Ryu seeking 100 wins … and consistency

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will now see if left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu can build up some momentum with the playoffs less than three weeks away.

Ryu will start in Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies. It also will be the Dodgers’ final game at home in the regular season.

Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are the only known starters in the playoffs for Los Angeles, with the Dodgers possibly set on using an opener whenever they need a fourth starter. As for who pitches Game 1 in the National League Division Series on Oct. 3, nothing has been set.

It appeared as if Buehler would get the honor when the Dodgers altered the rotation to have the right-hander pitch Saturday against the Colorado Rockies. But Buehler failed to dazzle, giving up a pair of home runs while taking the loss as the Rockies won 4-2.

The Rockies won at Dodger Stadium for the first time in eight tries this season. Buehler has given up 17 earned runs to the Rockies in his last three starts, but he also has a 16-strikeout game against them.

If Ryu (12-5, 2.35 ERA) can hold down the Rockies and show he is recovered from some late-season inconsistencies, perhaps manager Dave Roberts will use the lefty in the playoff opener.

Roberts will pair rookie catcher Will Smith with Ryu on Sunday. Ryu has a 5.81 ERA in 26 1/3 innings with Smith behind the plate. With veteran catcher Russell Martin this season, Ryu has a 1.60 ERA in 123 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers seemed to be leaning toward giving Smith the bulk of the catching duties in the playoffs, but he is struggling on offense, too, with an .098 batting average in 41 September at-bats. He does not have an extra-base hit in the month.

“I want to give Will another opportunity to get with Hyun-Jin and see how he fares,” Roberts said Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Hyun-Jin will say it himself. If he’s on and executing pitches, it doesn’t matter who’s catching him. There’s nothing set in stone as far as catching (in October). We want to play it out so we can make as educated a decision as possible.”

Ryu is 0-1 in four starts against the Rockies this season with a 4.87 ERA and is 4-7 against them lifetime over 14 starts with a 4.94 ERA.

The Rockies will counter with right-hander Antonio Senzatela (10-10, 6.83), who has struggled to the tune of a 3-5 record and an 11.85 ERA over his last eight starts going back to July 5. He faced the Dodgers once in that stretch, giving up five runs on five hits over three innings in a Sept. 4 defeat.

At 99-56 the Dodgers will get their second crack at winning 100 games for the second time in three seasons. They have won 100 games just three times in Los Angeles Dodgers history (dating back to 1958).

Dodgers infielder Max Muncy did not play Saturday with a minor hamstring issue that developed in Friday’s game and his status for Sunday is not known. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado did not play with what was diagnosed as a stomach bug.

“We don’t know how he got it,” Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters. “I don’t know whether it’s food or (something else). But there’s a man down.”

–Field Level Media

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