After an evening spent deliberating their options, the Dodgers chose to start Rich Hill in Sunday’s regular-season finale, saving Walker Buehler for a potential Game 163 with Colorado on Monday or the wild card game on Tuesday.
Buehler was slated to pitch Sunday, and the Dodgers appeared willing to stick with him after the Rockies lost to Washington on Saturday, which pulled the Dodgers into a tie in the National League West. The calculus changed after the game, when Washington revealed it would not start ace Max Scherzer on Sunday, as both Scherzer and team officials had said.
So instead of facing Scherzer, the winner of the NL Cy Young in 2016 and 2017 who will contend for the award again, the Rockies will face Erick Fedde, a rookie with a 5.24 earned-run average. The Rockies had won eight in a row before losing Saturday.
The last-minute switch by Washington placed the Dodgers in a bind. By holstering Buehler, the Dodgers can use him to either win the division in a head-to-head matchup with the Rockies on Monday or save him for the wild card game, if the Dodgers lose Sunday and the Rockies win the division.
If the Dodgers force Game 163 but lose, their pitching will be in shambles for the wild card game. Clayton Kershaw would be working on two days of rest, and Hyun-Jin Ryu would be on three. The team likely would be forced to run a bullpen game behind Ross Stripling or Alex Wood.