Walker Buehler to start for Dodgers in Game 1 vs. Padres, but how’s his blister?
Walker Buehler will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series for the Dodgers.
The question now: Will the right-hander again be limited by a blister on his right index finger?
Manager Dave Roberts didn’t give a firm answer during a video call Sunday, saying Buehler’s finger “is in a great place” but that the team would “keep an eye on him each inning” as it did during his four-inning start in Game 1 of last week’s wild-card series.
“We have a good group of guys behind him, but I don’t necessarily know,” Roberts said. “I can’t say it’s scripted or when we’re going to deploy our guys in the ‘pen.”
Padres starting pitchers Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet are dealing with injuries that jeopardize their availability against Dodgers in the NLDS.
Buehler’s short outing in the wild-card round barely hurt the Dodgers. Between Julio Urías’ three innings of relief in Game 1 and Clayton Kershaw’s dominant eight-inning start in Game 2, only three full-time relievers were needed in the two-game sweep, with Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen and Brusdar Graterol throwing one inning each.
If Buehler is again limited in his NLDS start, Roberts is confident the Dodgers have enough depth to manage, even in a best-of-five series. He confirmed that Kershaw would again take Game 2 and that Games 3, 4 and 5 would likely go to Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May in some order.
That trio could also be available to come out of the bullpen early in the series and still start one of the later games.
“There might be a situation where those guys are available in any of the preceding games as a side day to then make a start,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of good options.”
Another development: Roberts expects to replace one of the position players on his 28-man roster with an extra pitcher, likely Dylan Floro.
MLB has released the start times of the divisional rounds, and the Dodgers will play night games against the San Diego Padres beginning Tuesday.
Also, if the series goes to a fifth game, Roberts didn’t rule out the possibility of Buehler being available to pitch again.
“If you ask me, we will see,” Roberts said of using Buehler twice in the series. “If you ask him, that’s a definite yes. That’s one of those things that we’ve just got to wait and see.”
Asked whether he likes this postseason’s modified format, in which the five NLDS games are played consecutively without any typical off days, Roberts again referenced the top-to-bottom strength he believes his roster boasts.
“Playing five in a row, I just think the format lends itself to [using] your entire roster,” Roberts said. “As a team, as an organization that believes in depth, you’re gonna have to use all 28 guys, in my opinion. Yeah, I don’t mind it.”
Pederson travels with team
Roberts confirmed outfielder Joc Pederson is with the team in Texas and was accompanied on the trip by his family. Pederson was placed on the family emergency medical list last month but returned before the end of the regular season and played in the wild-card series.
“I know he’s in a really good place, as far as that,” Roberts said of Pederson’s undisclosed family situation. “We’re just fortunate that we have him going forward.”
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