Seeing how badly I whiffed when I tried to handicap the Dodgers-Cardinals series last week, particularly when it came to my assessment of the Dodgers’ rotation, I think I’m going to get out out of the prognostication business and merely pass along information about that kind of thing and let history take its course. Things like this:
Manager Joe Torre said Hiroki Kuroda could join the
Dodgers’ playoff roster and start against the Philadelphia Phillies
depending on how he feels today after pitching a simulated game Tuesday
in Peoria, Ariz.
Sidelined for the division series because of a
bulging disk in his neck, Kuroda completed five innings in 49 pitches
while facing minor leaguers before throwing an additional 21 pitches in
the bullpen. He reported no complaints about his neck.
That simulated game was actually yesterday, and according to True Blue L.A., he threw 75 pitches, over which Joe Torre said he had “surprisingly good” command.
Given his solid start against the Cardinals, Vicente Padilla has to be a definite, as does Kershaw and Wolf. Assuming, as is likely, that Kuroda can go, that would presumably mean that Chad Billingsley would slide to the pen and Jon Garland would be off the NLCS roster entirely.
In light of Padilla’s emergence and the return of Kuroda, a rotation that looked to be a weakness in the NLDS — at least to morons like me — now shapes up to be a strength against the Phillies.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.