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Sports New World Series, same problem: Dodgers' convoluted pitching plans backfire in Game 2 loss

09:50  22 october  2020
09:50  22 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The Los Angeles Dodgers relied too much on their bullpen and not enough on their starters, which cost them in the World Series , according to Al Leiter.

ARLINGTON, Texas — They won 72% of their games this season, are appearing in their third World Series in four years and feature what seems like a bottomless trough of talent. Objectively, in both a short-and long-term sense, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the best baseball has to offer.

a close up of a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Dustin May reacts after giving up a home run in the fifth inning of Game 2. © Eric Gay, AP Dustin May reacts after giving up a home run in the fifth inning of Game 2.

So as casual viewers tuned into Game 2 of the World Series and saw a parade of pitchers head to the mound, only to get yanked, touched for a run or two here, slowly watching the game slip away and control of the series tilt back toward the Tampa Bay Rays, it was fair to wonder:

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1. When does World Series Game 4 start? First pitch of Game 4 comes to us from Dodger Stadium at 8:09 p.m. ET. “ Same mentality we had all year— flush it and move on to the next game ,” said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “It’s one of those things when you’re able to come out on top from a

The best team in baseball can’t do any better than this?

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The Dodgers tossed seven pitchers at the Rays, partly out of necessity but mostly by design, and almost all of them got nicked by a team that for the last eight games has been offensively impotent, coming nowhere near the 10 hits and six runs they produced Wednesday night.

The Rays won the game, 6-4, gladly taking advantage of the “Opener” strategy they largely pioneered, one meant to mitigate deficiencies for pitching- or revenue-poor teams.

Yet these are the Dodgers, with payrolls annually north of $200 million, with a Hall of Famer in Clayton Kershaw and a playoff-tested fireballer in Walker Buehler and ...

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That’s all it took. The half-inning that embodied the Boston Red Sox’s verging-on-historic season – the one that secured them a 4-2 victory in Game 2 of the World Series and sent the Los Inside the incredible 15-minute stretch that helped the Red Sox bury the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series .

The Dodgers had other plans . Yasiel Puig led off the inning with a home run, and after Giles struck out two batters, Los Angeles tied things up on a walk to Logan George Springer hit a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to give the Astros a 7-5 lead over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World

And that’s where this franchise makes you scratch your head.

In the off-season, the club jettisoned stalwart starters like Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-jin Ryu, and traded useful swingman Ross Stripling midseason. All reasonable moves: The Dodgers couldn’t have known a pandemic would wreak havoc on the season and that projected No. 3 starter David Price would exercise his right to opt out of it.

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They placed some faith in young starters Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, and May was more than serviceable, throwing as many as 88 pitches in a game, producing a 2.09 ERA as a starter and 1.09 overall WHIP.

Yet, come playoff time, the Dodgers envisioned a different assignment for May: Put out fires. Attack the opposition’s most potent batters, regardless of inning. Relinquish the role of traditional starter in service of covering perceived deficiencies in the Dodgers bullpen.

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Game 2 of the World Series starts today, Wednesday Oct. If it goes the distance, the World Series will end on Wednesday, October 28. The Dodgers have home field advantage and will act as the home team in the first two games and games 6 and 7. The Rays will bat last for the middle three games.

The World Series is going the distance. The Dodgers rallied past the Astros, 3-1 The Los Angeles Dodgers forced the second consecutive World Series Game 7 and the third in Remember, Jansen blew the save in Game 2 in his second inning of work and took the loss in Game 5 when he gave up

It’s a fine idea in a best-of-three or best-of-five series, and the Dodgers went 5-0 in steamrolling the Brewers in the wild-card round and Padres in the NL Division Series to reach the NL Championship Series.

But in the best-of-seven format, the Dodgers, unsurprisingly, have been a starting arm or two short.

They fought gallantly out of a 3-1 hole against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, but at the expense of putting May and Gonsolin in compromising positions.

Gonsolin had not pitched in two weeks when he was summoned to start after Kershaw suffered back spasms before Game 2. May, meanwhile, saw his viability out of the bullpen diminish with each outing.

a baseball player throwing a ball: Dustin May reacts after giving up a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the fifth inning. © Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports Dustin May reacts after giving up a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the fifth inning.

He has pitched six times in the postseason, no stint longer than two innings, and his baserunners allowed keep spiking: zero, one, three, five, three, and finally, Wednesday night, when he allowed four hits to the Rays but recorded just four outs.

Three of the four hits scored, the last a two-run, fifth inning homer from Brandon Lowe, who earlier in the game took Gonsolin deep. The shot off May provided the winning margin and left manager Dave Roberts in a familiar position but with a different theme, trying to explain away a different sort of playoff pitching shortfall.

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Boston fans weren’t sure which David Price they were going to get in the second game of the World Series , but the pitcher who showed up put in a winning

Two days after he used all of his position players and his entire bullpen in a loss , he used five relievers and Matsuzaka also started Game 3. Darvish has plenty of experience pitching at Minute Maid Park from Waldstein: The Dodgers continue to get strong pitching from the bullpen, as Brandon Morrow

“They understand every out we get is important,” Roberts said when asked about the spots in which organization has put May, 23, and Gonsolin, 26. “So that’s probably a question for them.”

Not exactly.

Ramping May down from starter to reliever was an organizational choice, one that helped navigate the early-round waters that sunk them in a five-game NLDS loss to the Washington Nationals in 2019.

It is a pattern with the club, one that began with Julio Urias, who debuted as a 19-year-old in 2016. The club handled him carefully then, and understandably so, yet four years later, Urias remains a premium talent with an undefined role, a situation Roberts has acknowledged bothers the lefty on occasion.

He was arguably the Dodgers’ most important pitcher in the NLCS, covering five innings in a must-win Game 3 start, and then coming back on three days’ rest to pitch the final three innings, allowing no hits, to claim Game 7, after which Roberts said the kid gloves are coming off.

Yet that offered Urias no defined role in this World Series. He was just another guy in the bullpen during Game 2, likely to be used if Gonsolin and May and the bats carried them into the middle innings with a lead.

A Game 2 win, and the Dodgers could all but go for the kill in Game 3 with Buehler.

Instead, they made World Series history in the weirdest way, becoming the first club to use seven pitchers who all recorded at least three outs.

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That's one way to do it, and though every arm on the Dodger staff is quality, the chances of them all executing seamlessly seems far more remote than leaning on a defined starter, with bullpen arms in reserve.

"That’s a tough one," said Lowe, who was 6-for-56 (.107, with a .180 OBP) this postseason before his multi-homer performance. "I don’t know that facing three guys or facing seven guys really changes, with the arsenals in that bullpen, in that staff.

"They’ve got guys that are extremely good pitchers, and I don’t think facing two of them or facing seven of them is going to change the outcome."

Nonetheless, the Rays and Dodgers are all square after two games, this Series following the same pattern as their seven-game loss to the Houston Astros in 2017: Win Game 1 behind Kershaw, lose a Game 2 filled with non-traditional pitching maneuvers.

On that night, it was lifting Hill after four innings, 61 pitches and just one run. A caravan of four relievers could only get them through the seventh inning, forcing closer Kenley Jansen into a two-inning save.

That night they were a pitch short, ultimately finishing one win shy of a title. In 2020, they are, from a manpower standpoint, better than the Rays relative to the toe-to-toe battle the Astros presented.

Yet their plight is the same: 1-1 going forward, leaning again on Kershaw in a Game 5, facing a similar bullpenning game in what could be a crucial Game 6.

At least Urias knows his role now: Roberts said he’ll start Game 4.

It’s a simple decision. That’s probably too rare an occurrence for an organization that’s the envy of baseball, yet somehow manages to get in its own way.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New World Series, same problem: Dodgers' convoluted pitching plans backfire in Game 2 loss

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