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Dodgers' playoff rotation is up in the air

Joe Torre has six starters, but he will use only four in the postseason.

September 27, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PITTSBURGH — Chad Billingsley said he doesn't view his scheduled start on Tuesday in San Diego as an audition for a place in the Dodgers' postseason rotation.

"Did Joe say I'm auditioning?" Billingsley asked, referring to Manager Joe Torre.

Torre has so far remained relatively silent on the subject of the playoff rotation, saying little more than that it will almost certainly be made up of four pitchers because his team lacks the kind of arm that can pitch on short rest.

"It would be unfair for me to name starters, because everybody is capable and worthy, as far as I'm concerned," Torre said.

Randy Wolf appears to be a lock to make the rotation. Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda figure to be in, meaning that Billingsley probably will have to beat out Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla for the last spot.

Billingsley and the Dodgers' other five starting pitchers were summoned into Torre's office Saturday, where they were told that some of them might be pitching in relief in the final week of the season.

The Dodgers will play five games after their series in Pittsburgh concludes Monday -- two in San Diego and three at home against Colorado.

Torre said that if a particular pitcher is sent to the bullpen this week, it shouldn't be interpreted as a sign that he will be asked to pitch in relief in the postseason.

"I want to see how it works or what we can foresee going forward," Torre said.

Billingsley, who is trying to pitch his way out of what might be the worst stretch of his career, said he isn't thinking about whether he will start or relieve next month.

"It's not my decision," he said. "I'm going to concentrate on what I have to do. I would like to start, but any position I get in, I'm going to do the best I can."

Billingsley said he doesn't feel as though he has to redeem himself for his meltdown in the National League Championship Series last season, when gave up 11 runs in only five innings over two losses.

"Last year was last year," he said. "I'm concentrating on what I have to do."

Billingsley said he was pleased with his most recent start, Wednesday in Washington, when he pitched five no-hit innings before serving up a tying three-run home run in sixth.

"I have to do it again," he said. "I threw well. I'm going to build off it."

Kershaw back in mix

Back from a separated non-throwing shoulder, Kershaw is scheduled to make his first start in more than three weeks today.

The start will be one of two Kershaw will make before the end of the regular season. Asked if that would be enough to regain his sharpness in time for the playoffs, Kershaw said, "I can't really say. I don't feel like I've lost anything."

Kershaw struck out four in two innings of relief in Washington on Tuesday. He acknowledged feeling a sense of urgency because the season is winding down.

"We're getting pretty close," he said. "I did try to get back as fast as I could. Obviously, it wasn't the best timing."

Blake pulled

Casey Blake was penciled in to start at third base for the first time in four days, but Torre took him out of the lineup because he didn't want to risk him reinjuring his left hamstring on the rain-soaked field.

Ronnie Belliard, who was originally set to start at second base, started at third, with Orlando Hudson at second.


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