Even shaky Dodgers mound bullpen ends season, worries about postseason

The Los Angeles Dodgers are all but assured of winning the National League West. They have a 13.0 game lead over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

When the postseason begins, the Dodgers will bypass the Wild Card Series (best-of-three) in favor of the best-of-five Division Series as the second seed in the National League. The difference in pitching power was on display last weekend in a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves. They lost three games to one. Atlanta has the best record in the NL and home field advantage.

The Dodgers won a franchise-high 111 games last year and had home-field advantage heading into the World Series, but were swept in the first round of the playoffs by their division rivals, the San Diego Padres, who were their regular-season bread and butter. After winning the first game, the Dodgers lost three straight to fall short of the WS.

The Dodgers’ success in the West is not just about making the playoffs. As Derek Jeter once said, the success of a season is measured by whether or not you make the WS. The Dodgers’ 111-win season last year was not a success. It was a disappointing year for fans.

This year is no different. The mound is vulnerable. The release of a handwritten statement from Walker Buehler, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, on Sept. 9, stating that he is “done for the 2023 season and will return in 2024 when healthy,” added to the postseason anxiety for fans.

The scenario was that Buehler would return in September after undergoing a second elbow ligament splicing surgery last August. After consulting with team doctors, club officials, and his family, it was determined that he would be healthy enough to return for the 2024 season.

With the postseason right around the corner, he’s not in the starting rotation. Buehler is rehabbing, and his availability was unclear. Established lefty Julio Urias is under MLB investigation for domestic violence, effectively ending his season. He already served a 20-game suspension for domestic violence in 2019, so expect more punishment. Urias’ absence is even worse than Buehler’s season ending.

The Dodgers have the second-best winning percentage in the NL, but on the mound, they are the worst since moving the franchise west. They have a team ERA of 4.20 (16th in MLB), a starting ERA of 4.53 (18th), and a bullpen ERA of 3.74 (9th).

Outside of rookie Bobby Miller (9-3, 3.80) and second-year Ryan Pepiot, the team failed to overwhelm hitters against Atlanta and Miami over the weekend and early in the week.

Notably, veteran Clayton Kershaw has been reduced to a five-inning pitcher since returning from the long-term disabled list (shoulder). And with his awl-like fastball missing, he’s been walking a lot of batters, which is uncharacteristic of Kershaw. In 16 pre-injury games, he struck out nine and walked 2.3 per nine innings. In five games since returning, his K/9 has dropped to 7.4 and his BB/9 has risen to 4.1. His velocity also dropped to 144 mph from 147 before the injury.

Acquired from the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline, Lance Lynn’s back-to-back poor outings in Atlanta and Miami raised concerns that he might be showing his limitations. In Miami, he took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before giving up three home runs and eight runs in the fifth. He was criticized by manager Dave Roberts for not making an early pitching change until he was nearly blown out.

The postseason is no place for Finnespitzer. A power pitcher who can get out of a bases-loaded, first-and-third situation with a strikeout works. The difference in focus between hitters in the postseason and the regular season is stark. Most pitches don’t get hit.메이저놀이터

The bullpen isn’t as strong as it used to be, even when the Dodgers rotate their starters in the top three spots in the batting order. There aren’t many bullpen arms that can get hitters out of close games. Even if they win the World Series, the 2023 Dodgers won’t be able to celebrate.

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