Dodgers’ pitching staff wins district title with weakest mound in history
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2023 district title is a bit of a surprise. They didn’t get to the top with traditional mound power, but with offense.
The Dodgers, who play in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, have been described as a pitcher’s club. This year, their ERA has dropped to the low 4s. That’s the worst ERA since the franchise moved west in 1958, and they still won the division. Their 5.7 runs scored average is second in MLB, behind only the Atlanta Braves’ 5.8.
The Dodgers (91-57) have 14 games remaining in the division series. They can’t close the gap on Atlanta (96-63). The MLB is designed to keep the division winners in contention down the stretch, as the team with the best record gets home-field advantage all the way to the World Series.
Right now, Dodger fans don’t have a lot of faith in the offense of a team that has made the postseason for 11 straight years. That’s because of the fragile mound. Even last season, after winning a franchise-high 111 games, the Dodgers ended the season with a 1-3 loss to the regular-season champion San Diego Padres in the playoffs’ gateway Division Series.
The Dodgers are tied with Atlanta for first place in the division, so there’s no wild-card series. It’s the Division Series. They will likely face the Milwaukee Brewers in a best-of-five series.
In the MLB postseason, the first and second place teams in the division get a first round bye, and then it’s the remaining division winner against the third place wildcard, and the first place wildcard against the second place wildcard.
The Dodgers starting rotation for the Division Series is expected to be Lance Lynn, Bobby Miller, Clayton Kershaw, and Ryan Pipette. However, the starting rotation is not set in stone in the Division Series. It’s a 13-pitcher operation. The strength of the Dodgers’ mound is that there isn’t a huge difference in quality between the 13 pitchers in the starting rotation and the bullpen, but there isn’t a dominant pitcher either. Clayton Kershaw currently leads the team with 121.1 innings pitched.
The Seattle Mariners clinched the district title on April 17, and this could be a preview of what to expect in the division series. Kershaw lasted four innings in his start, allowing two hits and two walks. Manager Dave Roberts went to Kershaw’s side after the fourth inning and talked to him for a while. Rookie Emmitt Sheehan followed with three innings of one-hit ball, 메이저놀이터 striking out five. They went on to win 6-2 in 11 innings, using five bullpen arms.
In the final game on April 18 in Seattle, reliever Selby Miller was used as the opener and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, acquired at the trade deadline, allowed one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Rookie Gavin Stone followed with 3.1 innings of one-hit, two-walk, five-strikeout ball to close out the 6-1 win.
Until last season, the Dodgers’ PO pattern was for the starters to go at least five innings and the bullpen to take over and close out the game. This year, however, with all of the quality starters out with injuries and surgeries, the intent is to keep the bullpen on the short end of the stick.
Kershaw is no exception. Of course, the coaching staff is being very cautious after his return from a shoulder injury. Kershaw has accepted this reality. The 35-year-old made his first start of the year on June 28 in Colorado.