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Dodgers Dugout: Why won’t the Dodgers have all three of their best starters face the Giants?

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we are closing in on the newest “most important series of the season!”

Remember when the season started, and those early games against the San Diego Padres were billed by some as the “most important series of the season.” Well, we are closing in on a series where that title might be accurate.

Now you might be wondering why I’m overlooking the Atlanta series, which starts tonight. I’m not. Honestly, as long as the Dodgers are in second place and in that wild-card game, every series becomes the most important of the season. However, my instincts say that if the Dodgers want to win the division, they will need to sweep the Giants in San Francisco.

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And they’ll have their best three pitchers starting for them ... wait, what? They won’t?

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They will not.

The Dodgers decided to give Julio Urías an extra day of rest, meaning he didn’t start Sunday against Colorado and instead will start Monday against Atlanta. That means Walker Buehler starts Tuesday and Max Scherzer on Wednesday. Which means Scherzer will not start against the Giants. Instead, we get:

Friday: David Price
Saturday: Urías
Sunday: Buehler

Now you might be asking why did the Dodgers set things up so Scherzer wouldn’t pitch against the Giants? It’s all about protecting the arm health of Urías and Buehler.

“It’s certainly going to be a big series,” Dave Roberts said Sunday of next weekend. “But I think making sure that you take care of the guys, Julio and Walker, namely, as far as giving them an extra day to understand and appreciate what they have in store for the rest of the season. There are still plenty of games that we have to take care of our business and we’ll have two of those guys against the Giants. I think the thought is to make sure our guys are performing optimally and with rest. We’ll bet on that.”

Let’s take a look at how many times Urías and Buehler have started with four or five days of rest this season, and how they’ve done in those starts

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Urias
Four days’ rest (9 times): 4-1, 2.83 ERA
Five days’ rest (13 times): 7-2, 3.58 ERA

Buehler
Four days’ rest (10 times): 6-1, 1.97 ERA
Five days’ rest (12 times): 6-1, 1.80 ERA

Would it be optimal for the Dodgers to go with Urías, Buehler and Scherzer against the Giants? Of course. But the Braves are no slouch, and having those three start against them instead is nice too. Besides, if the Dodgers want to win the division, they are going to have to win games that other pitchers start.

In short, while I know it bothers some of you (thanks for your emails), it’s not the end of the world. Besides, if the Dodgers can’t win two of three from the Rockies ...

Why did Justin Turner pitch Sunday?

The Dodgers were trailing the Rockies 5-0 Sunday when a familiar, red-haired and bearded figure took the mound to pitch the ninth inning. Toomgis? No, not the AMPM mascot. It was Justin Turner. You might be wondering why the Dodgers turned to a position player when the game wasn’t quite out of hand.

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“Down 5-0, with three hits through eight innings, the chances of coming back to win [are slim], so to use a leverage guy in the ninth, I didn’t feel good about that,” Roberts said. “I talked to Justin, and he was on board with saving the pen. That speaks to him being a leader, taking it for the team, to save a leverage guy.”

I’m not sure what message was supposed to be sent there, but the message I received is that if the Dodgers are down five runs late, it’s OK to head to your car and get a jump on traffic, because the game is over.

Maury Wills will answer your questions

We’ve done some interesting newsletter reader-former Dodger Q&A’s over the years. We’ve had Ron Cey (read it here). Orel Hershiser (read it here). Peter O’Malley (read it here). Jerry Reuss (read it here). The list goes on.

But one of the biggest names has just agreed to answer questions from Dodgers Dugout readers: Maury Wills, whom readers voted the 12th-greatest Dodger of all time in 2018, and in 2020 voted Wills breaking the stolen base record as the 10th-greatest moment in Dodger history.

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So, one of the greatest Dodgers of all time will answer your questions. Send them to houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Make sure you include your first and last name and where you are from and that the subject line reads “Ask Maury Wills”. You have until Thursday to send me your question. Selected questions will be answered by Wills in an upcoming newsletter. Thanks.

NL West standings

San Francisco, 84-46, - -
Dodgers, 82-49, 2.5 GB
San Diego, 69-62, 15.5 GB
Colorado, 60-70, 24 GB
Arizona, 44-88, 41 GB

NL wild-card standings

Top two qualify for wild-card playoff game. Winner of that advances to NLDS to face the team with best record.

Dodgers, 82-49, +11.5
Cincinnati, 71-61

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San Diego, 69-62, 1.5 GB
St. Louis, 66-63, 3.5 GB
Philadelphia, 66-64, 4 GB
New York, 63-67, 7 GB

The rest of the schedule

Who do the Dodgers and Giants play the rest of the way? Let’s take a look.

Dodgers

Home (15)

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Atlanta (3), San Diego (6), Arizona (3), Milwaukee (3).

Away (16)

San Francisco (3), St. Louis (4), Cincinnati (3), Colorado (3), Arizona (3).

San Francisco

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Home (20)

Milwaukee (4), Dodgers (3), San Diego (7), Atlanta (3), Arizona (3).

Away (12)

Colorado (6), Chicago Cubs (3), San Diego (3).

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What’s the Dodgers roster now?

It’s so hard to keep track of every move, so here’s the 26-man roster as of Sunday night.

Pitchers (14)

Phil Bickford

Justin Bruihl (LHP)

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Walker Buehler

Brusdar Graterol

Shane Greene

Kenley Jansen

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Joe Kelly

Corey Knebel

David Price (LHP)

Max Scherzer

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Blake Treinen

Julio Urías

Alex Vesia (LHP)

Mitch White

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Catchers (2)

Austin Barnes

Will Smith

Infielders (5)

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Max Muncy

Albert Pujols

Corey Seager

Justin Turner

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Trea Turner

Outfielders (5)

Cody Bellinger

Mookie Betts

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Billy McKinney

AJ Pollock

Chris Taylor

Why did the Dodgers send Matt Beaty to the minors and not Billy McKinney? Well, McKinney is much better defensively, but more important, he is out of minor league options, meaning that the Dodgers could easily lose him to another team if they tried that. Beaty can be sent to the minors without that fear.

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Injury report

Scott Alexander (10-day IL, left shoulder inflammation): Alexander has had shoulder problems all season.

Danny Duffy (60-day IL, left flexor strain): Duffy seems to have turned a corner on his rehab but no timetable for his return has been announced.

Tony Gonsolin (10-day IL, right shoulder inflammation): Gonsolin will pitch in a simulated game today. There is no timetable for his return.

Clayton Kershaw (60-day IL, elbow inflammation): He won’t be available until “sometime in September,” according to Roberts. The soonest he could return is Sept. 5. Kershaw threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session last Friday.

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Evan Phillips (10-day IL, right quad strain): The day after getting the win in his Dodgers debut, Phillips was put on the IL.

Jimmie Sherfy (60-day IL, right elbow inflammation): He was transferred to the 60-day IL last week and probably won’t return this season.

Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle and Dustin May are all recovering from Tommy John surgery and are out the rest of this season. Jimmy Nelson had elbow surgery and is out for the rest of the season. Cole Hamels has an elbow injury and won’t pitch this season. Edwin Ríos had shoulder surgery and is also out for the rest of the season.

In case you missed it

Criminal investigation against the Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer filed with district attorney

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Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave is extended to Sept. 3

While Clayton Kershaw sits out, Dodgers consider how best to use him

Dodgers playing as a No. 4 seed in NL playoffs? Fix this, MLB

Up next

Monday: Atlanta (*Drew Smyly, 9-3, 4.54 ERA) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías,14-3, 3.17 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, ESPN, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

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Tuesday: Atlanta (Charlie Morton, 12-5, 3.60 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 13-2, 2.02 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday: Atlanta (*Max Fried, 11-7, 3.54 ERA) at Dodgers (Max Scherzer, 12-4, 2.51 ERA), 7 p.m.., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully tells a story about Walter Alston and an incident on the team bus. Watch and listen here.

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Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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