Astros-Dodgers Game 7: Sorting through Dodgers pitching options for winner-take-all
Everything is on the line and almost everyone is available. How will Dave Roberts proceed?
LOS ANGELES -- Game 7 is coming. We've seen 2,430 regular-season games and 37 postseason games in order to get us here. It's now a winner-take-all between two 100-win teams in the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The moves with the pitching staff from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts have been scrutinized all series. He got a bit of redemption on Game 6, but how will things work in Game 7?
He really has no good options that are totally rested aside from starting pitcher Yu Darvish. The power righty is on full rest and only threw 49 pitches last time out, but the Astros torched him.
Given how Roberts has handled his staff this postseason, we can bet that he won't let Darvish see the Astros lineup for a third time outside extreme circumstances, such as Darvish having a perfect game and five-plus run lead.
After Darvish, where to turn?
We know how Roberts likes to use his bullpen. We saw it in Game 6.
- Brandon Morrow gets the highest-leverage non-save situation.
- Kenta Maeda comes in a spot where Roberts might need length.
- Tony Watson is ready for 1-3 outs and it's a plus if there are lefties mixed in.
- Tony Cingrani is a situational lefty, mostly a LOOGY
- Kenley Jansen is the closer and can go up to two innings.
With this group rested, Roberts probably only needs four innings from Darvish under a normal scenario.
This isn't normal, though. It's Game 7 and everything is on the table.
Further, several members of that bullpen have to be gassed. Brandon Morrow looked great in Game 6 after that day off, but he's still pitched in every game in the series and he was noticeably tired by Game 5. Maeda hasn't been quite as sharp in his last two times out (though he's overall incredible in the postseason). Watson walked one of the two hitters he faced in Game 6. Jansen went two innings.
Sure, Roberts could well stick with the same gameplan in Game 7 as Game 6. It's just that now he has some other clubs in his bag.
Alex Wood was brilliant in Game 4 and he's now on three days' rest. He could be ready for an inning or two.
And, of course, there's Kershaw. He told reporters after the game he's ready to go as long as his team needs him to. He's only on two days' rest, but we saw the Cubs get some good work from Jon Lester in relief during last year's Game 7 in the same situation. There's an entire offseason to rest. Now is the time to answer the bell.
Playing with the scenarios, what about this in the case of a Dodgers win? Darvish goes four, Wood goes one, Kershaw goes three and Jansen goes one.
What if Kershaw morphs into Madison Bumgarner and just takes over? Let's say Darvish goes three, Wood works one and then Kershaw just finishes things?
We also have to account for an inning starting to get a bit sticky with Darvish on the hill, in which case I think Roberts goes to Morrow to get out of the jam -- unless it's a lefty, then he'd go with Watson. If the Dodgers wiggled out of said jam, then Roberts can hand the keys to Wood or Kershaw with a clean inning.
Or Roberts could just ignore Wood and go with his relievers and Kershaw after Darvish.
One scenario I can't quite see is Kershaw not getting into the game.
Aside from Darvish and Kershaw, though, all bets are off. There's no telling where Roberts goes. He does have a ton of options, though. It's going to be fun to see how it unfolds. It's Game 7. Everything's on the line and there is no tomorrow. Let's get it on!
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