Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he was not ready on Wednesday to disclose how the club planned to set its rotation for the National League Championship Series beyond Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 on Friday. He explained various factors remained in play.
A day later, minutes after getting off the team bus at Miller Park for his club’s workout, the manager announced Hyun-Jin Ryu would start Game 2 on Saturday. Walker Buehler will get the nod for Game 3 at Dodger Stadium on Monday, followed by Rich Hill in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Roberts explained that the club did not want to have Ryu go an additional two days without pitching after starting Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves on Oct. 4. He’ll be on eight days’ rest Saturday. Buehler, who started Game 3 against the Braves last Sunday, will pitch on six days’ rest.
“We just felt that Clayton starting Game 1, Hyun-Jin going Game 2, and then Walker, gives each of these guys the best chance to perform at their best,” Roberts said.
In a surprising move, Ryu got the nod over Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS. He tossed seven shutout innings, lowering his earned-run average at Dodger Stadium this season to 1.02. Buehler gave up five runs — all in the second inning — across five innings in his Game 3 start at SunTrust Park.
A few hours before Roberts unveiled his rotation, the Brewers announced left-hander Gio Gonzalez will start Game 1, left-hander Wade Miley will start Game 2, and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin is tentatively scheduled to start Game 3. Brewers manager Craig Counsell indicated Chacin, the Brewers’ most effective starter during the regular season, could pitch out of the bullpen in Game 1.
The Brewers acquired Gonzalez from the Washington Nationals on Aug. 31, just ahead of the waiver deadline. He posted a 2.13 ERA in five starts with Milwaukee, but didn’t pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS as the Brewers aggressively used their bullpen during their three-game sweep.
“We like the matchup,” Counsell said. “It’s no secret that we’re going to use our pitching a little differently than traditionally, than the traditionalists would like. And so for us the first matchup that we like was Gio on the mound. We’re asking Gio to go out there and get a bunch of outs. How many, you know, we’ll see just how it goes.”
Freese to start at first base
Knowing the Brewers could turn to their bullpen early in every game, Roberts indicated the Dodgers will field slightly different lineups from the two they’ve used depending on the opposing starter’s handedness. And with the Brewers slated to start left-handers in Games 1 and 2, his lineup will be right-hander-heavy with a couple changes.
One unchanged piece, at least for Game 1, will be David Freese, who will get the start at first base, Roberts revealed. Freese also got the start in Game 3 of the NLDS, when the Dodgers fielded a modified lineup against left-hander Sean Newcomb because they knew the Braves would go to the bullpen immediately in an elimination game — and likely to a right-hander. For that reason, Cody Bellinger, who usually doesn’t play against left-handers, started. Freese played two innings before Max Muncy, a left-handed hitter, replaced him.
“I might tweak a thing or two,” Roberts said, “just because you also have to combat and prepare against those guys deploying their guys in the ‘pen.”
Friends turned foes
Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado and Brewers second baseman Jonathan Schoop were raised in the Baltimore Orioles organization together. They became best friends and All-Stars together, helping the franchise advance to the playoffs three straight seasons. But the Orioles disintegrated to historic lows in 2018 and sold off pieces before the nonwaiver trade deadline to kick-start a wholesale rebuild. Among them were Machado and Schoop. Machado was traded to the Dodgers during the All-Star break. The Brewers acquired Schoop, 26, a week and a half later. On Friday, they’ll face each other for the first time.
“We go way back,” Machado said. “I’ve known him for eight years. We came up together, we started playing together. We’ve done everything for eight years in an organization. We grew our relationship. He’s one of my best friends. It’s just relationships that you build on through the years.”