Joe Blanton would get the start if the Dodgers can force a play-in game against… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The best-case scenario for the Dodgers now may be unlikely, but it’s all they have. Which means they have to embrace it, and plan for it.
So should the Dodgers win their final two games, while the Cardinals lose their final two regular-season games, there will be a single play-in game at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
And their starting pitcher will be Joe Blanton.
That’s right, should their entire season come down to one game, the key start will go to Blanton, who’s 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA on the season and soon to be a free agent, and likely, an ex-Dodger.
“It’s just where Joe is lining up,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “He’s throwing the ball good for us. If we get to that game, we’re going to be fine.”
Blanton is 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 10 starts as a Dodger this season, but is coming off consecutive strong outings. He held the Rockies scoreless for seven innings in his last start, and the Reds to one run in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start.
Mattingly’s only other real option would be to start Josh Beckett (7-3, 3.07 ERA in 14 postseason games) on three days rest, something he’d hate to do.
“I just think it’s asking a lot,” Mattingly said. “Joe’s been throwing the ball good. Joe’s pitched in the World Series. It’s not like this guy hasn’t been anywhere and pitched in big games. And we have to win another game the next day too.”
No time has been announced for a potential play-in game, but the winner would have to leave immediately to play on short rest Friday in Atlanta.
Getting to a play-in game will require a lot of things to go right, but regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s game, Mattingly said, Clayton Kershaw will start the regular-season finale Wednesday.
Kershaw has made three starts since suffering setback with a sore hip. He has allowed only two earned runs in the 20 innings of those starts, and held the Rockies scoreless in the eight innings of his last start.
“He wants to pitch, so we’ll plan on him,” Mattingly said. “There’s no reason for him not to pitch.”
Mattingly said he wasn’t sure of the hip’s current condition, other than it was not currently bothering him. Doctors have assured there could be no further damage from continuing to pitch with it.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but he’s not feeling anything,” he said. “I really don’t know how to explain it.
“He couldn’t throw [before], he couldn’t actually go out there and play catch.”
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