Dodgers' focus on October in season finale
Ryu delivers four innings as LA pulls starters early
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers concluded the regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Rockies, but the club's concerns are on October.
In anticipation of Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday in Atlanta, the Dodgers rested their regulars, monitored pitch counts and spread work among the bullpen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
But after the game, the Dodgers learned center fielder Matt Kemp would not be available in the postseason because of a recurring ankle injury.
"I'll be cheerleading," said Kemp, who will be on crutches for a month in an effort to heal the weight-bearing bone in his left ankle.
While Kemp is out for the playoffs and outfielder Andre Ethier is in doubt for the NLDS because of his own ankle issue, manager Don Mattingly said his club is "still good enough to win."
The best thing the Dodgers have going for them is a deep pitching staff.
Hyun-Jin Ryu went four innings in an abbreviated start, fellow starter Ricky Nolasco picked up an inning, and Chris Capuano bounced back with his second relief appearance in three games, a good sign for the left-hander following a three-week layoff due to a strained groin.
The Dodgers have not announced their starter for Game 3 of the NLDS, but it appears to be Ryu. If the series with the Braves reaches Game 4, Nolasco would likely take the mound. Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1, followed by Zack Greinke in Game 2 on Friday.
In an effort to keep Ryu fresh for October, the Dodgers pulled him after 76 pitches. Nolasco made 17 pitches in his lone inning.
"The pitch count was already set before I went out on the mound today, I'm just really unhappy that my pitch count was so high early that I couldn't go past four innings," Ryu said through interpreter Martin Kim. "But other than that, it was a pretty good practice game for me."
Capuano appears to be on the bubble for a spot on the NLDS roster. But he can provide the Dodgers with another left-handed option out of the bullpen against the Braves, who have several dangerous left-handed sluggers.
Rookie reliever Chris Withrow followed Capuano with a scoreless inning and may have done enough over the final months of the season to earn a role in the postseason. Closer Kenley Jansen, setup man Brian Wilson and lefty J.P. Howell are all givens, and the trio combined for two scoreless innings Sunday.
By the seventh inning, Mattingly had removed catcher A.J. Ellis, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielders Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, dealing with an irritated nerve in his lower back, got the day off. Infielder Nick Punto was sidelined with an in-grown toenail on his right foot.
Skip Schumaker drove in the Dodgers' only run with a single in the fifth inning. He'll be the starting center fielder in the NLDS if Ethier is unavailable.
Ryu took the loss, charged with two runs on eight hits, to close his otherwise successful rookie season. The left-hander won 14 games and posted a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts.
"Overall, I'm very satisfied with my first year," Ryu said. "Most importantly, I got away without having any major injuries. The pitch count and the games that I started was beyond what I originally thought it was going to be, so I'm very happy with the way my first season ended."
As he has done all year, Ryu pitched out of trouble for much of his outing.
In the first inning, Ryu allowed just one run on a walk and three singles to the first four batters. The Rockies had runners on the corners with one out in the second, but he escaped that jam. Ryu gave up three hits in the fourth, but again held Colorado to one run.