Unable to clinch a postseason berth Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers will still take the playoffs into consideration when they face the San Francisco Giants in the finale of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers entered the current series with a magic number of four and designs on clinching their seventh consecutive National League West title, but won't be able to celebrate against their rivals after losing consecutive games to the Giants while the Arizona Diamondbacks won a pair of games at Cincinnati.
Left-hander Julio Urias (4-3, 2.55 ERA) will at least try to get the Dodgers closer to a playoff berth when he takes the mound Sunday. He will also try to carve out his own role for the playoffs, potentially as a fourth starter.
Urias, who will be making his second appearance since returning from a 20-game suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy, is trying to build himself into a starter following a season when he pitched mostly in relief.
Manager Dave Roberts expects Urias to pitch three innings and/or 45 pitches Sunday, with a handful of starts still to come in September. Urias is 0-2 against the Giants lifetime in 10 appearances (five starts), but does have a 1.47 ERA against them in 30 2/3 innings.
Also under consideration to be a playoff starter -- along with Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler -- will be left-hander Rich Hill, who will return from the injured list Thursday at Baltimore and also have a limited window to prove his rotation worthiness.
That trip to Baltimore now appears to be where the Dodgers will clinch another division title.
"Yes, we are going to clinch at some point and time," Roberts told reporters before Saturday's game. "We just have to play a complete baseball game. ... We would like to clinch and move forward, but the main thing is that I just want us to play consistently good baseball. Clinching, when it takes place, will be a good thing."
Sunday's game will be noteworthy in that it is the final time Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be on the bench for a game at Dodger Stadium. The veteran skipper will retire at the end of the year, with the final series of his career later this month against the Dodgers at San Francisco.
The Dodgers have already presented Bochy with a signed Sandy Koufax jersey. Bochy has called Koufax one of his favorite players.
"A lot of intense games," Bochy said about games at Dodger Stadium, where he holds the record for most wins by a visiting manager (107). "A lot at stake in so many of those games, obviously, being in our division. It's been a lot of fun. A lot of great times."
Bochy will send right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (5-8, 5.15) to the mound Sunday. Rodriguez is coming off a solid start at St. Louis on Tuesday when he gave up one run over seven innings, with seven strikeouts and a walk. He credited a reliance on offspeed pitches for his success and hinted more of the same could be on the way for the Dodgers.
Rodriguez does not have a decision in three appearances (one start) against the Dodgers, carrying a hefty 17.47 ERA over 5 2/3 innings against the division foe.
After two defeats to open the series, the Dodgers now have a slim 8-7 advantage against the Giants in the season series.
--Field Level Media