LOS ANGELES >> Alex Wood was one of the best starting pitchers in the National League over the first half of the season and made his first All-Star team as a result.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is not ready to specify Wood’s status on the Dodgers’ postseason roster.
“Fortunately for us, we do not have to make that decision yet,” Roberts said. “We’re still not prepared to make a decision.”
Wood is still most likely to make the postseason roster as the Dodgers’ fourth starting pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill. But the Dodgers have not used a fourth starter in the best-of-5 NL Division Series round the past four years with Kershaw coming back to pitch on short rest instead.
With Kershaw’s history of back injuries the past two years, the Dodgers might be less inclined to use the left-hander on short rest. In fact, Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi acknowledged at the time that one factor fueling the acquisition of Yu Darvish in July was the fact that it would deepen the Dodgers’ postseason rotation and make it less necessary to push Kershaw on short rest.
If Wood is not the fourth starter in the NLDS, he could move to the bullpen. He has pitched out of the bullpen occasionally during his big-league career — including the postseason with the Atlanta Braves (in the 2013 NLDS against the Dodgers) and Dodgers (each of the past two years). That would make Hyun-Jin Ryu a candidate to be the swingman fourth starter — who could be bumped if Kershaw is used on short rest. Ryu is not a candidate to pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason because his shoulder and elbow surgeries make it untenable for him to warm up and enter a game on short notice.
Ryu threw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon to test his injured left forearm. He was hit by a line drive during his start Saturday. Roberts said Ryu’s status for the final four games of the regular season will be determined by how he feels following that bullpen session.
Ryu could make a final regular-season start Friday or Sunday in Colorado “or not at all,” Roberts said. If Ryu has no ill effects from the line drive, a Friday start is most likely.
The only thing Roberts would say about the starting rotation for the final series this weekend is that Kershaw will make an “abbreviated” start on Saturday. “To what extent” it will be abbreviated, Roberts said, “we don’t really know. There’s no number. But will it be abbreviated? Yes.”
Roberts said he would talk with Darvish to see if the right-hander wanted to start once more before the end of the regular season. Darvish has never pitched at Coors Field and has only faced the Rockies (a potential playoff opponent in the NLDS) once, earlier this season.
“I’ll defer to what he’s most comfortable with, have a conversation with him about what prepares him best for the postseason,” Roberts said.
Yasiel Puig returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after being benched by Roberts on Monday for arriving late for a scheduled early workout.
Roberts used the comparison to disciplining a son when asked about the situation with Puig.
“Sometimes with your son you have to take a hard line,” Roberts said. “He knows that everything I do, every decision I make is for his best interest and our ballclub’s. Over the last two years, we’ve forged that respect and that love for one another. It’s tough to not see your name in the lineup. But we talked about and every day you have to be accountable for your actions.”
Puig “is not grounded” anymore, Roberts said. “He’s allowed to leave his room and get on the field and play with his friends.”
Julio Urias was in attendance at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for his bobblehead promotion. The young left-hander underwent surgery on June 27 to repair a tear in the anterior capsule of his left shoulder.
Urias met with Dodgers officials last month to plot the road ahead in his recovery. He is currently working out and receiving physical therapy at the Dodgers’ training complex in Arizona. Urias said he was told he could be able to begin a throwing program “possibly” 4-4-1/2 months after the surgery – a timetable that puts it in late October or early November – and pegged his eventual return at 14 months.