The Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched a playoff spot, and the only thing left on their to-do list is securing their eighth straight NL West Division title.
With a four-game game lead over San Diego after Thursday's 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, it looks like they will do just that, which isone reason why manager Dave Roberts is eschewing a starter for Friday's game at Colorado. Roberts didn't say who would open the game but he planned on using several pitchers to get through the game.
The Rockies (22-27) have a plan in place for Friday and hope they get the same result they did in right-hander Ryan Castellani's first career start against the Dodgers on Sept. 6. The rookie allowed four runs on six hits, three of which were home runs, over 4 1/3 innings, but Colorado came out on top, 7-6, in L.A.
Castellani (1-2, 4.46 ERA) struggled with his control in his last start, walking six Los Angeles Angels hitters in 5 2/3 innings, but he allowed just one hit and one unearned run.
The 24-year-old Castellani isn't lacking in swagger, even if he has not seen the wins accumulate.
"My confidence is great," he said. "I know we're in a big spot here, winding down the end of the season. But for me, I can't let the pressure get too big. First of all, the best thing I can do is focus on the Dodgers, you know, one game at a time. Really try to keep things as simple as possible."
His presence will be even more important now that right-hander Jon Gray has been shut down for the remainder of the regular season because of shoulder soreness.
"I have been dealing with pinches in my bicep tendon and really have been trying to get my shoulder movements right," Gray told The Denver Post on Wednesday. "It's definitely a bummer but at least nothing is screwed up or broken. I've just got to get it working correctly."
Colorado, still looking up in the standings at one of the two wild-card spots, plays a heavy schedule down the stretch and added bullpen depth by recalling right-hander Jesus Tinoco from the alternate training site and optioned outfielder Sam Hilliard.
The Dodgers (36-15) are rolling despite some roster upheaval. Third baseman Justin Turner missed three weeks with a hamstring injury before returning this week. Reliever Joe Kelly returned from a suspension but lefty Caleb Ferguson is going to have Tommy John surgery for the second time after he tore the UCL tendon.
L.A. is also missing outfielder Joc Pederson, who was placed on the family medical emergency leave list. Roberts said he was hopeful Pederson could rejoin the team early next week.
"The goal is to get Joc back on Tuesday. We'll see," Roberts said. "That could change, obviously family first, but the goal is to see him on the field, in the lineup, depending who the pitcher is, on Tuesday."
The Dodgers recalled outfielder/infielder Zach McKinstry from the alternate training site on Wednesday to provide depth.
--Field Level Media