(Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
The Los Angeles Dodgers will play their final home game until the playoffs when they face the rival San Francisco Giants on Sunday as postseason preparations continue.
The Dodgers (95-59) clinched the National League West title last weekend at Seattle, and they wrapped up a top-two spot in the NL with their 7-0 victory over the Giants Saturday. It means Los Angeles earned a bye into the division series for the upcoming playoffs.
The Dodgers' hopes of catching the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the NL are fading with a four-game deficit and seven games remaining.
A bye into the division series means the Dodgers will get a week off once the regular season ends to set what they have hinted at as a unique pitching plan for the playoffs.
Rookie Bobby Miller will operate as more of a traditional starter, while veterans Lance Lynn and Clayton Kershaw figure to have shorter leashes in the postseason. Any other games that require a starter will be filled with openers or multiple pitchers going to two or three innings at a time.
Lynn (12-11, 5.92 ERA) will get the start for the Dodgers on Sunday, looking to steady himself in what is expected to be his next-to-last outing of the regular season. Lynn gave up a combined five runs over 12 innings of his past two starts, both wins.
The real victory, though, might have been that Lynn gave up just one home run in each outing after giving up a combined six homers over his previous two starts. Lynn leads the major leagues with 42 home runs allowed this season.
"I know what's expected here moving forward," Lynn said. "I know what I'm capable of, and I have a couple more starts to kind of find my ground here and get ready to give everything I've got, especially in the playoffs."
Lynn has admitted to making some mechanical adjustments and credits those for some recent improvement.
Since arriving in Los Angeles in a trade-deadline deal with the Chicago White Sox, Lynn is 6-2 with a 4.67 ERA. He is 1-5 with a 4.44 ERA lifetime against the Giants in eight starts, but none of those have come in a Dodgers uniform. He did face San Francisco in April as a member of the White Sox and was crushed for eight runs on nine hits (three home runs) over 4 1/3 innings.
The Giants (77-78) will use right-hander Ryan Walker (4-3, 3.20) as an opener. The rookie has appeared in 45 games, making 12 starts. In his lone outing against the Dodgers, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on June 16, giving up two hits in the 7-5 win.
After Saturday's defeat, the Giants are four games back in the NL wild-card standings with seven games to play and are facing elimination soon. But they continue to look for ways to get better.
"What can we learn from the last two weeks, the last month, the last several months?" manager Gabe Kapler said, according to MLB.com. "How can we apply those lessons right this minute? What action steps can we take? What conversations can we have? How can we scale some of those messages and use each other as force multipliers, get those messages out and motivate a little bit better?
"It's not too late to make these small process adjustments right now."
--Field Level Media