World Series: Dodgers' pitching plan for Game 6 should involve more from Rich Hill
A.J. Hinch's job is to ride Justin Verlander. What should his counterpart do?
LOS ANGELES -- Monday seemed like a necessary day off after Astros, but man, it was something from another planet. Just lunacy.on Sunday night in Houston. It masqueraded as a 13-12 victory in favor of the
As the dust settles, we know what Astros manager A.J. Hinch is planning on for Tuesday night. It's ride Justin Verlander as long as he can, hopefully for nine innings.
On the flip-side, Dave Roberts' game plan is likely substantially altered from the last time we saw this pitching matchup. In Game 2, he simply wanted to get lefty Rich Hill through the lineup twice before handing the ball to his dominant -- and, at the time, looking untouchable -- bullpen grouping of Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow, Tony Watson, possibly Tony Cingrani for a lefty or two and all-world closer Kenley Jansen.
We've only seen a handful of games since then, but the landscape has changed.
The bullpen thus far
Heading into Game 2, Brandon Morrow was looking like one of the best relievers in baseball. Roberts has run him into the ground, though, pitching him in every game this series. Through Game 1 of the World Series, Morrow had a 0.96 ERA with eight strikeouts and one walk in 8 1/3 postseason innings. From Game 2 on, he's given up five earned runs on seven hits in three innings with two strikeouts and one walk.
Lefty specialist Cingrani coughed up a home run to Brian McCann, a lefty.
Even the great Jansen has now allowed a run in each of his last three outings. In those appearances, he's given up three runs on six hits with a walk and two home runs.
Maeda was unbelievable in the postseason -- specifically in relief in Game 3 -- until allowing a homer in Game 5. Still, I think everyone in the ballpark, including about 500 fans, coughed up homers in Game 5.
Watson has also been pretty good throughout.
The right plan for Game 6
So what should Roberts do?
First off, he needs to see if Hill can get deeper in the game than pulling him after four relatively good innings as he did in Game 2. He's got to get more length out of his starters.
Roberts knows this and said as much on Monday in Dodger Stadium.
"I think if you look back at the Alex Wood start and what he did for us in Game 4, I think that it's kind of the same blueprint, where you obviously have to watch the game and see how he's throwing the baseball," Roberts said. "I look for Rich to throw the ball really well. And under the circumstances of Game 5, you've got to be open to pushing him, and I know he's up for the challenge."
Once he needs to move on from Hill, I think he's got to give Morrow the night off outside extreme circumstances. This isn't just for Morrow's arm to get some rest. He's lost effectiveness, too. Roberts said everyone outside Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish is available, but he should still avoid Morrow.
The other thing I believe he should do is avoid Jansen for more than one inning if he can. He's seemed to become a bit more susceptible once he's stretched past an inning these last couple games.
The ideal blueprint? Get through seven innings with some combination of Hill and Maeda (something like 5 1/3 from Hill, 1 2/3 from Maeda), with one inning of Watson and one of Jansen.
If the Dodgers pull off a win with that combination, Roberts has Darvish for Game 7 with Kershaw possibly being able to get through two or three innings in relief. Then Morrow is fresh while Watson and Jansen aren't overworked, either. Wood is also a good possibility after his strong work in Game 4.
Plans get blown up all the time, especially with a team's back against the wall, but this is likely similar to Roberts' plan heading into Game 6 trailing the series three games to two. We'll find out how close he can stick to it Tuesday in Dodger Stadium. Given how incredibly this series has been to this point, you'd be crazy to miss it.
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