I’m used to some late nights following the Dodgers, but this was something else: I came home from a night out to see that past midnight, the 2nd inning was just resuming after a rain delay. I briefly considered sticking it out, but thought better of it; that turned out to be the right call, because it was nearly 5am here in the east when the game was finally suspended in the 9th.
So today we get the pleasure of two different games, and if you don’t think the second game is guaranteed to go extra innings, you must be new to baseball. With Hong-Chih Kuo unlikely to continue pitching in the top of the 9th due to his injury history, and Ted Lilly, Mike MacDougal, Kenley Jansen, and Matt Guerrier already used, the Dodgers have three pitchers remaining to finish off a game that is currently tied at two: Jonathan Broxton, Blake Hawksworth, and Lance Cormier.
So far, I haven’t offered you anything you don’t know already, but there is a reason for this post; two, in fact. First of all, we’re going to learn a lot about Don Mattingly’s managerial style if the Dodgers don’t take the lead when the suspended game resumes (Matt Kemp will be on first base with no one out, and Juan Uribe, James Loney, and Xavier Paul coming up). If the game goes to the bottom of the 9th tied, will he go with the “by the book” strategy of saving Broxton for a lead, or will he go with the more efficient choice of using his best available reliever? After all, it does no good to save your closer for the bottom of the 10th if one of your two lesser arms has lost the game in the 9th.
Secondly, why couldn’t the Dodgers call up another reliever for the regularly scheduled game tonight? They’re allowed to make roster moves between the two games, and Mattingly noted the thought in Ken Gurnick’s story on dodgers.com:
Mattingly said he spoke with general manager Ned Colletti about calling up a pitcher, “but we don’t have a lot of flexibility” because the Dodgers are already planning on calling up a fifth starter (probably John Ely) for Sunday in place of the disabled Jon Garland.
But the supposed lack of flexibility doesn’t really seem to make sense. Let’s say that A.J. Ellis is the player sent down to make room for Ely tomorrow, as we assume he will be. You could just send Ellis down after the first game today for an extra arm to help in the second game, be it Ramon Troncoso, Travis Schlichting, Scott Elbert, or someone else. Then send that pitcher down before tomorrow’s game for Ely. The end result is the same, in that Ellis was sent down for Ely, except that you turned a third catcher into an extra arm for tonight’s second game.