Sore Arms: The State of the Dodger Pitching Staff
The oddsmakers have whiplash on this game, as the Dodgers have yo-yoed back and forth on their starting pitcher. At about 10 AM EST they announced that Walker Buehler, their lone healthy ace, will start this must-win game.
It was expected that Max Scherzer would toe the rubber for Game Six, but in light of what he calls a “dead arm,” the veteran will not start. The team has also lost bullpen stopper Joe Kelly, who was replaced on the NLCS roster by David Price after experiencing forearm tightness in Game Five on Thursday.
LA managed to post baseball’s second-best record in 2021 despite adversity in their pitching staff. In May, Dustin May tore his UCL and had to undergo Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for more than 12 months. May made several important appearances for the team in the 2020 postseason.
Then there was Trevor Bauer, who signed as a free agent last offseason after winning the Cy Young Award. Bauer left the team in July amid allegations of sexual assault. He remains on administrative leave from MLB, and it’s unlikely he will ever throw another pitch for Los Angeles.
In early October, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was placed on the Injured List with arm trouble. He’s out of for the remainder of the postseason. Then, Scherzer, who effectively replaced Bauer and was considered insurance against Kershaw’s health, came up with his limp arm.
With 20-game winner Julio Urías inconsistent and haggard from usage this playoff season, that leaves Buehler as the only healthy option for manager Dave Roberts.
But Buehler will be pitching on only three days rest for Game Six. He’s only made one short-rest start in the postseason in his career (Game Four of the NLDS when he only lasted 4 1/3 innings), which has to lead bettors and fans to be wary.
Party Like It’s 1999: Braves Pennant Hopes
There was a time when the Atlanta Braves called themselves “America’s Team.” There was a time when the Braves made the playoffs every year for what seemed like forever, and captured five pennants in the 1990s.
But the Braves haven’t been to the Fall Classic since Bill Clinton was president, and they’re ready to party like it’s 1999. Even without their superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., this team has shown moxie and grit, and only needs one final win to grab their first pennant in 22 years.
Keys To Dodgers Winning Game Six
- Buehler must go at least five solid innings. The Dodger bullpen is down a man (Joe Kelly) and after a long season they’re sucking air.
- Chris Taylor and/or A.J. Pollock will need to keep filling the offensive void left by the loss of Justin Turner, who is out for the rest of the playoffs with a hamstring injury.
- On the road, LA needs to quiet the Atlanta crowd early by scoring first.
- 36-year old David Price, now activated for this game, will likely see action. The veteran southpaw may be the first man out of the LA bullpen. He’ll need to command his breaking ball, which can have a tendency to hang when he’s off his game.
- Kenley Jansen, if he gets a chance to save this game, must avoid his habit of creating his own jams with control problems.
Keys To Braves Winning Game Six
- Starting pitcher Ian Anderson only recorded nine outs against the Dodgers in Game Two of this series. But the Braves still found a way to win that contest. Tonight, Anderson will be expected to get into the fifth. His battles with Corey Seager will be important. In Game Two, Seager took him deep.
- Freddie Freeman has four home runs against the Dodgers in the last two postseasons. He makes the offense go for the Braves, and if he has good swings in Game Six, Atlanta will be dancing tonight.
- The Braves bullpen is well rested, and Will Smith, A.J. Minter, and Jesse Chavez have yet to allow a run in this series. If Anderson hands the pen a lead at home, you can all but book it: the Bravos will finish off the defending champs.