The Los Angeles Dodgers have a daunting task: defeating the Houston Astros two games in a row at home. To accomplish this feat, LA must utilize Alex Wood out of the bullpen.
After one of the greatest World Series games in MLB history, the Dodgers and Astros travel back to Los Angeles to face off in game six. Houston holds a 3-2 lead after coming out on top in the 13-12 slugfest. Now, with both bullpens depleted, the Astros have the advantage on paper with Justin Verlander on the mound.
The Dodgers turn to left-handed journeyman Rich Hill. In their last contest, the Dodgers struck Verlander for three runs off of two home runs. However, Verlander essentially neutralized the Dodger bats, allowing just two hits through six innings of work.
Hill, on the other hand, pitched just four innings allowing one run, three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Although it was not his greatest performance, Hill kept the Astros at bay. Dave Roberts then pulled Hill in favor of Kenta Maeda to face the heart of the Astros lineup. Since this decision, the dominant Dodger bullpen is gassed and fatigued.
Starter Yu Darvish went only 1.2 innings in game three and Clayton Kershaw went just 4.2 innings. The once dominant bullpen now seems human. This is because of Roberts’ quick trigger finger to go to the ‘pen. You cannot blame him, as they have been great, but now they may need one more rest day in game six.
Wood may be the most well-rested Dodger arm.
The only way to supply that rest day is by going to game four starter Alex Wood out of the bullpen. Wood is on just two days rest after throwing 84 pitches on Saturday. Despite this, Wood may be the most well-rested Dodger arm as he has only thrown in two games this postseason.
While using Wood in game seven would be preferable, the Dodgers need to get to game seven first. As great as Rich Hill is, he does not have a track record of going deep into games. With all things considered, if he is dealing, the Dodgers may look to get six to seven innings out of Hill.
But this Astros’ offense is so good that Hill may be at crossroads come the fifth. If a big offensive situation rises, and Hill is due up, the Astros could force him out of the game.
That is where the Dodgers need Wood to step up. Los Angeles simply does not have much else to go to.
“(Roberts) talked about using as many pitchers as he could and playing the game urgently because he had Kershaw game five, knowing that Verlander was there game six,” Verducci said. “He said ‘we have to win when Kershaw gets the ball, just like they have to win when Verlander gets the ball.'”
More from LA Sports Hub
- Lakers: 5 Players to Target Through Trades to make another championship run
- LA Chargers: Week 8 against Denver Broncos is a must-win
- LA Rams: Jared Goff wants to keep the Los Angeles title streak going
- Lakers Rumors: Los Angeles Clippers interested in Rajon Rondo
- LA Chargers: Justin Herbert wins AFC Rookie of the Month
And now LA is in a pickle. They are facing a pitcher that has never lost in the Astros without the same dominate bullpen that can keep them in the game. Brandon Morrow, Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda need at least one more days rest to be effective.
That is why Wood is so important. Instead of micromanaging the game like he has all postseason, Roberts has to have faith in Hill and Wood. Of course, if they get rocked they should get pulled. But Roberts should not be pulling either guy with the bases empty just to favor a matchup.
The matchups have been thrown out the window this series. Wood is the only pitcher that has found continued success against the Astros; allowing just one hit in 5.2 innings thrown. In Dodger Stadium, that stat line will only be better.
Los Angeles needs five innings out of Hill and at least four innings out of Wood. If they can do that, and turn the ball over in the ninth will a comfortable lead, the Astros’ momentum will be staggered and the Dodgers’ ‘pen will be well-rested for game seven.