Dodgers take potential Game 4 ‘bullpenning’ approach against Rays

first_imgThe 23-year-old finished his rookie season with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .294 batting average in 106 games.“It’s extremely disappointing, Verdugo said. “I love to play. This is my happy place. I’ve always been like that, even when I was a kid: no matter what happened outside the field, I could go out there between the lines and nothing mattered. It was just, go out there and play, have fun.”ALSOTurner’s absence reached the 10-day mark. The veteran said his left ankle is “getting better every day, but not better to where I want it to be.” … The MRI on Hill’s left knee revealed no structural damage, Roberts said. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt observed Hill’s bullpen session. Roberts said the two worked to tweak Hill’s pitching mechanics “in a way so it relieves some of the stress on his knees.”UP NEXTDodgers (RHP Tony Gonsolin, 3-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Rays (LHP Brendan McKay, 2-4, 5.27 ERA), Wednesday, 5 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available), 570 AM Roberts made one other move Tuesday with an eye toward the postseason.With Justin Turner resting a sprained left ankle, Chris Taylor started at third base for only the second time this season. Max Muncy, who has started 18 games at third base, was available too. But Muncy got the start at second base, Roberts said, because “I expect Max to stay on the right side of the diamond.”VERDUGO RETURNSIn his first comments since he aborted a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, Alex Verdugo said he is targeting a return during the NLCS. The outfielder hasn’t played since Aug. 4 because of injuries to his oblique and back. He returned to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday on the occasion of his first bobblehead giveaway.“Give it a couple more weeks,” Verdugo said. “Hopefully we’ll start getting ramped up. By the time the NLDS comes, hopefully I’ll be pretty close to making that next step.”Verdugo was initially sidelined with a strained oblique muscle in May, after the Dodgers’ series in Tampa Bay. He was able to manage the injury until August, appearing in all but eight of the team’s first 114 games before finally going on the injured list.Verdugo’s oblique had healed by the time he appeared in a rehab game with Rookie-level Ogden on Sept. 4. After one swing and miss, Verdugo said he felt the right side of his back “lock up.” The pain has lessened with the help of treatment, mostly at the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch facility in Arizona. Verdugo did not receive any injections to relieve the pain and doesn’t plan to.Related Articles Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season center_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have used September to prove that preparing for October, and gunning for the National League’s best regular-season record, are not mutually exclusive goals.As their magic number to clinch home-field advantage through at least the NL Championship Series dwindled to five on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts tinkered. He swapped his scheduled starting pitcher, Ross Stripling, for reliever Caleb Ferguson. Ferguson pitched the first 1-2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.Why the last-minute change?“It was more of just kind of understanding that, but also appreciating the fact that (Stripling’s) role with us in the postseason is going to be out of the ’pen,” Roberts said, “so to kind of continue to have him take on that role.” Roberts did more than swap starting pitchers. He offered a possible preview of his pitching plans for Game 4 of a potential postseason series.With Stripling going to the bullpen, right-hander Tony Gonsolin and left-hander Rich Hill appear the most likely candidates to pitch after (in some order) Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw take the first three games. Hill, who’s dealing with a sprain in his left knee, threw an extended bullpen session Tuesday afternoon.Dodgers starting pitchers entered Tuesday averaging 5-2/3 innings a start, second only to the Nationals. For weeks, Roberts has said his fourth starter would not be expected to pitch into the sixth inning. Tuesday, even the third inning seemed ambitious.Ferguson faced seven batters and retired five. The next pitcher, Julio Urias, faced four batters. Dylan Floro faced one. Stripling finally entered the game in the fourth inning.“I think that that starting spot is very cloudy right now, and I would just say this: I can see that Game 4 being a little unconventional,” Roberts said. “And so I think the thing is, is getting the best eight or nine arms for the ’pen and going from there.” Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco last_img