LOS ANGELES — Coincidentally, Major League Baseball announced its playoff schedule on the same day the Dodgers announced that Walker Buehler would undergo season-ending surgery. In the playoffs, a star-studded starting rotation can be paramount to making a deep run.
In the typical playoffs, that is.
The National League’s five-division series could feature an unusual schedule this season. If the series lasts five games, there will be no travel day between games 4 and 5, which are scheduled to be played in different cities on October 15 and 16, respectively.
Similarly, the best of seven NL Championship Series has only one rest day, a travel day between games 2 and 3. If the series lasts six or seven games, there will be no rest day. rest between games 5 and 6, which will be played in different cities on October 23 and 24.
The schedule was changed to accommodate the extra wild-card team in each league, which MLB added as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association. The best-of-three wild card series will begin Oct. 7, immediately following a lockout-delayed regular season that resulted in spring training.
Even with the elimination of the two days off, the World Series will begin on the relatively late date of October 28. Game 7, if necessary, will be played on November 5.
Who will benefit the most from the new format?
Teams with deep starting rotations — like the Dodgers, who got just 12 starts from Buehler but still lead MLB with a 2.73 rotation ERA through Thursday. The Dodger rookies have a .753 winning percentage, which would rank them second all-time — and the best since 1906 — if they can sustain it for a full season.
“I think anytime you’re going to have back-to-back games in a series, you have to dig deeper because of usage,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “If you’re talking 14 (pitchers) on a roster, I like our 14.”
The Dodgers’ active roster includes four healthy starting pitchers in Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney. The foursome will be joined on Saturday by Dustin May, who will be activated from the injured list to start against the Miami Marlins.
In this postseason, having three reliable starting pitchers isn’t enough, Roberts said.
“In this (NLDS), yes you have (you have to have four), then the way they did the (NLCS) could be five,” he said. “Having the starting depth is going to be essential.”
Clayton Kershaw’s schedule to join the rotation was finalized on Friday.
The southpaw threw a 30-pitch bullpen, his first since going on the disabled list Aug. 5 with lower back pain. Kershaw’s back is now asymptomatic, allowing him and the Dodgers to dream more confidently of an early September comeback.
“It’s absolutely on par with what we initially hoped for,” Roberts said. “You’re looking at another (batting practice), mock play, then activation.”
Roberts said it hasn’t been determined if the three-time Cy Young Award winner will serve a minor league rehab assignment before his return to the Dodgers.
Relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol faced three batters and struck out two in his final minor league rehab game with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The right-hander threw nine of his 14 pitches for strikes. … Graterol was supposed to go home after pitching on Thursday, but Oklahoma City’s game was watered down. … Yency Almonte (elbow) threw up 120 feet as the right-hander continued his throwing progression.
Marlins (LHP Braxton Garrett, 2-6, 3.67 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Dustin May, 0-0, 0.00 ERA), Saturday, 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM