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How Important is The Fourth Starter in a 5-Game Playoff Series?

For the Dodgers it could be crucial.

The Dodgers have done it and clinched their fourth consecutive National League West title. Now that they have wrapped up the NL West the club turns their attention to the postseason. Setting the postseason roster, the rotation and knocking the Giants out of the playoffs take over as top priorities in the club’s final games of the regular season. Now the report is that the Dodgers may not pitch Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill on short rest in the NLDS which could mean neither of them would pitch a potential game 4 or game 5. I honestly don’t understand how that would allow them to advance.

I understand the injury limitations on both pitchers and would never want to see either of them risk their careers. Obviously Kershaw’s herniated disc is a lot more serious than Hill’s blister problem; however both pitchers have been placed on strict pitch counts over the final weeks of the season in order to keep them healthy.

This is the playoffs though and if the Dodgers have a do or die game 5, one of them has to start. However with the current format neither hurler will have to start on short rest if they pitch two games. The Dodgers have already set their rotation for games 1-3 of the NLDS. Clayton Kershaw will of course pitch in the opening game with Rich Hill following in game 2. Kenta Maeda will pitch game 3 and the Dodgers are pretty sure Julio Urias can pitch a game 4. If Urias can pitch game 4 then the club won’t have to worry about throwing Kershaw or Hill on short rest. As long as Urias pitches game 4 then Kersh and or Hill can start on regular 5 days of rest in a game 5.

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There are two off-days during a 5-game playoff series. One off day is after game 2 and the second is after game 4. The real question is how much do you trust Urias in a game 4? Last season the Dodgers used 3 pitchers during their 2015 NLDS against the Mets. Kershaw started games 1, and 4. Zack Greinke started games 2 and 5 and Brett Anderson started game 3. The club did not use a fourth starter. Many people believed that not having that fourth starter, or in this case a third pitcher since Anderson is so bad cost them the series.

I think that the decision will depend on what the outcome of the series is by the fourth game. If the Dodgers are trailing 2-1 in the series than they are going to have to pitch Kershaw or Hill to keep their season alive. If they are ahead 2-1 than it might be ok to give Urias a start and save Kershaw for a potential game 5.

I know this though; the Dodgers have to put out their best in every game if they want to be able to advance to the World Series this season. If the medical staff has cleared Kershaw and Hill to pitch than the Dodgers have to take their expert opinions into consideration. There is always going to be risk with injuries but this is the playoffs.

The Dodgers haven’t won anything in 28 years. The World Series drought is becoming a huge monkey on the Dodger’s back and it’s starting to anger most of the fan base. We’re sick of it. It’s time for everyone to suck it up. This is not the time to use kid gloves with anyone. It should be all hands on deck. We don’t want to have to endure a fourth consecutive postseason loss. Again this means putting out your best pitchers on the mound and if that means starting Kershaw or Hill on short rest than that’s what you have to do to keep the season going. You do it.

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This season the Dodger’s depth is more profound. Hill has pitched very well and could be very dangerous in the postseason. Maeda is solid and now they have Urias that can pitch a game 4. Combine these guys with Kershaw and the Dodgers have some very solid pitching. I think they have enough to get through the playoffs as long as they don’t get spooked. Sometimes the needs of the many greatly outweigh the needs of the few or the one. If the Dodgers are on the verge of elimination then you have to use Kershaw, or at the least Hill. Who else would you use?

Will it be enough to defeat the Washington Nationals in the NLDS? Whatever combination they use, just don’t start Ross Stripling in a game 5 with the season on the line please. That’s all I ask.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

24 thoughts on “How Important is The Fourth Starter in a 5-Game Playoff Series?

  1. It was good the team woke up. I just have a few observations:

    1. Howie Kendrick was a very important cog for the Dodgers this year, but he has been mired in a slump for weeks. The Dodgers might not have won if not for Howie – that’s how important he was. But now (unless he gets hot again) Andrew Toles has to take his spot in LF – just my opinion. BTW, ask Scott who predicted good things for Toles before he was even called up?

    2. If Brandon McCarthy pitches well in his next start, he will be the 4th starter. Urias will be a longman. Of course, if McCarthy pitches poorly, then….

    3. Don’t assume that Brett Anderson won’t be on the playoff roster. Liberatore has a 10.61 ERA in the last 15 games. Luis Avilan has a 3.09 ERA in the past 15 games. Take it for GRANTed that Dayton makes the roster.

    4. Andre Ethier will be on the roster.

    5. Kike and Charlie could both make it, but if one does, it will be CC (no not that CC).

    6. Josh Ravin can’t be on the roster, but I think Alex Wood might as a lefty specialist.

    7. JP Howell will absolutely be on the roster – forget his record. Basez? Probably!

    Enjoy this:

    1. Oh come on Mark, even a goof like me knew Toles was probably gonna hit pretty good and run like the wind. They said his defense was a work in progress and I think he’s progressed pretty fast on that. Only question was… would his temperament get in the way of his talent. Been answered, a Yuge NO on that. At least so far anyway. I saw him get a few nice hits in Lake Elsinore when the Quakes played the Storm early this season. That’s when I found out his story and followed him all year through all his promotions. Nice to see a good prospect perform as advertised and then some. Go get em Andrew and carry the team with you.

      1. The game Toles got those hits I watched Grant Holmes throw 5 really impressive innings and got the opinion he was gonna be at least a good number 3 starter some day fairly soon. Still of that opinion, but obviously for some other team.

    2. Really doubt Ethier. Unless Toles is out. Ethier has shown very little and adds very little.

      Did someone really posit that Toles could move to 2nd?!??!?


  2. In Urias’ previous two games, he didn’t pitch that well, but last night he did a good job.

    I thing I worry about Urias, in when he pitches in the first inning.

    He almost always has a shakey first inning, and an umpire isn’t going to help him.

    Urias seems to still have trouble getting use to the major league strike zone.

  3. It would be a tough match up for Joc against Bumgarner tonight but if Roberts puts Joc in the starting lineup and Joc makes good contact against Bumgarner, I would bet that Kike’ doesn’t make the playoff roster. If Kike’ starts at second tonight and makes good contact against Bumgarner, he might get himself back on the playoff roster.

    1. Bum
      I don’t see Kike playing second tonight, because of Culberson.

      But Bumgarner did make Kike look really silly, the last time Kike faced him.

      It seems like most of the time Kike swings to hard, and that makes him an easier out.

      Maybe Kike will win this battle tonight, and sucker Bumgarner, into throwing Kike a hanger, so Kike can hit it out.

      I just guess I don’t see Roberts changing the platoon line up tonight, but Utley is the wild card here.

      Let’s hope Puig gets a big HR or hit, against Bumgarner tonight, so we can watch Bumgarner pout.

      And let’s hope we can win this big game, and this big series, from the Giants.

      So we can eliminate them from the post season, and make there obnoxious fans, shut up for a while.

      1. Puig vs. Bumgarner is a game inside a game so we get to have a two for one tonight. Culberson could get a start at short tonight to give Seager another rest but I think Roberts said that Seager would play all three games against the Giants.

        I don’t think Joc will start tonight but if he does I think that means that Roberts and the team of exectutive 30 somethings may be leaning to Kike’ not being on the playoff roster.

        1. Bum
          If Culberson can play shortstop, there really isn’t a need for Kike, with the way Kike has hit all year.

          Puig or Toles, could play center, if anything happened to Joc.

  4. And Mark did say that Toles was on his way up, before it was even in the news.

    And it seems that everyone on the team really likes Toles a lot, especially Roberts.

    I still think that Puig needs to play more, because he is one of our biggest assets against leftie pitching.

    I think Howie will get some starts in the post season in left, because he is that veteran presence.

    It is to bad his arm isn’t strong enough in the outfield.

    I don’t think Howie should bat in the lead off position anymore.

    He was hitting pretty well in the eighth position earlier in the season, but I don’t know that he should bat eighth either.

    Maybe Howie is just getting wore out, at this point of the season, and that is why he is slumping.

    He looked wore out last year at the end of the season, and in the post season games.

  5. The interview between Alanna Rizzo and Josh Reddick was one of the best of the year. Reddick came out of the interview as very likable. Davis, Oral, and Nomar didn’t want to cut it off and let the game play in the background during the interview.

    I felt good for Alanna because she only gets short sporadic opportunities to participate in broadcasts and many of those opportunities are short-circuited by players photo-bombing, if you will, the interview.

    I like Reddick much more now. Too bad he probably won’t be on the team next year. But, if Turner does not re-sign, and I love doing this because it gets my fellow commenters to roll their eyes, Puig could easily be converted to a third baseman and give Reddick a place to land in RF.

    And, since some of your eyes are already rolling, I think Toles could be converted to a second baseman. Put Bellinger at 1st and the Dodgers are a speedy team.

    1. Josh Reddick was always known as a good dude, a good teammate, and a good clubhouse guy. Hell, he comes out to different WWE wrestlers’ music, so he loves to have fun and keep things loose.

      But yes, there isn’t really a need for him next season, especially because he’ll command a 3-4 year deal, and we already have Ethier and his 1 year left to backup the OF spots.

  6. According to Fangraphs for the month of September of all MLB players with 50 or more plate appearances, Joc ranks #2 in OPS and is tied for 6th in WAR. What a difference a year makes. Joc was clutch down the stretch and reinvented the #8 spot in the lineup.

    Matt Kemp was #9 and Adrian Beltre was #11 Trout was #24, Loney #111, Kris Bryant #169 in OPS.

    OPS: Pederson #2, Reddick was #22, Pug #31, Turner #57, Grandal #101, Seager #109, Utley #154, Gonzales #203, Kendrick #239

    WAR: Pederson #6, Turner #21, Seager #36, Reddick #38, Puig #91, Grandal #110, Utley #123.
    All other Dodger hitters below zero WAR

    1. Bum
      They mentioned the players of the month of the MLB Channel, but they only mentioned Reddick.

      Didn’t I tell you that Joc is perfect hitting in the eighth position.

      It is a perfect place because Joc can be much more patient in his at bats, and wait for his pitch.

      It also helps Joc pick up walks, to off set his strike outs.

      I just don’t want Reddick on this team.

      He isn’t that good on defense, and he isn’t a run producer.

      Look at his career babip , he has only had a decent Babip, when he hasn’t had a full season, of at bats.

      And I think Ethier, is a much better hitter, and has more power.

      But I do think Puig could play third, if he wanted too, but I think that would be a waste of some of Puig’s best assets.

      Puig has to much speed, and plays rightfield so we’ll, it would be a shame, to play him elsewhere.

      1. MJ, pitchers want to get the #8 hitter out so that the pitcher leads off the next inning. Therefore Pitchers do not want to walk the #8 hitter but will pitch around the #8 hitter if there are runners on base which makes it difficult for that hitter to drive in runs.

      2. MJ, Puig often trys to get Roberts to let him take infield practice at 3rd and there was a clip showing him at third and he looked great. Last night Joe, Nomar, Oral were talking about Puig originally being a catcher and has a catchers short quick arm motion instead of the typical long motion most outfielders have. Puig is acrobatic and quick and I think he would be great at third.

        I also really enjoy the way he plays RF but Verdugo has an awesome arm and Toles is also right there with him. Reddick’s glove seems to be waking up along with his bat but a lot would have to happen before Reddick would be offered a contract IMO.

        For now, Turner is our 3rd baseman and will be a great one for a couple more years.

        1. They were talking about Puig throwing like a catcher, but I don’t think they ever said that he was originally a catcher. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall them saying that at all. Puig covers more ground than any outfielder on the team and other teams no better than trying to run on him. He’s an outfielder and will always be an outfielder.

          I would give Turner 4/60 over really overpay for 3 years for three reasons. First, he’s the team leader. Second, as Turner goes, the offense goes. Third, Arrenado is a free-agent after 2019. He grew up a huge Dodgers fan and if he knows that Turner is signed exactly through his walk year, I can see him making sure that he hits the open market that year.

        2. When you mentioned Puig at third I immediately thought of Pedro Guerrero–“don’t hit the ball to Sax either.” But if he still wants to try next spring, why not?

    2. I just heard on the MLB Channel that the Dodgers rank eighth in hard contact against lefties, but we are last in BA, OBA , and slugging.

      And the Giants have one of the weakest contact against leftie pitching in all of baseball.

      They said it sounds like the Dodgers are hitting into unlucky contact, when it comes to leftie pitching.

  7. If Urias were to start game 4 at least it would be at DS, not on the road.

    But regardless of whether it’s a bad back, a hot blister, or an innings limit (which seems to go up and up and up like the federal deficit ceiling) I think the starters will only throw a specific number of pitches and it’s the parade of relievers as its been all season.

    Sans any errors on defense I think we can beat Washington, though each game will take over 4 hours to complete.

  8. Sorry Mark, I do not see Anderson on the team in any capacity. McCarthy can be electric if he has his command. So I could see McCarthy as the fourth starter and Urias in the pen. Stripling is going to be in the pen.

    I really do hope they resign Turner. I just like his attitude. We need to develop a young second baseman.

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