LOS ANGELES — Seven playoff-intensity games in April are certain to leave their mark.
On the heels of their draining series against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers added reinforcements to a depleted bullpen and welcomed back Gavin Lux from the Injured List. But they also placed left-hander David Price on the IL with a Grade 2 hamstring strain that will sideline him for weeks.
“It seems like and it is – teams come and bring their best against us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the possibility of a hangover following battles with the Padres. “But yeah, it’s been seven games in call it 11 days of really intense baseball. But I expect Julio (Urias, Monday’s starter) to come out and throw the baseball well. We stayed away from three relievers, to appreciate the long view of a long season. And I liked the way we stuck to that.”
Price was one of five relievers Roberts did use in Sunday night’s 11-inning game. But the veteran left-hander suffered a hamstring injury early in his one inning of work. An MRI on Monday revealed the damage.
“I think, at the floor is a few weeks. Just kind of depends on how David responds,” Roberts said of the prognosis for Price’s recovery. “The nice thing is that he can keep his arm moving. He’s determined to get back sooner than later so we’ll see how it plays out.”
In addition to Lux’s return, the Dodgers also activated right-hander Dennis Santana from the IL. Santana was unavailable for two days after having a reaction to his vaccination. Right-hander Mitch White was also recalled from the alternate training site. Left-hander Garrett Cleavinger and outfielder D.J. Peters were returned to the alternate site.
Already on the IL with an oblique strain, Zach McKinstry will join them at Camelback Ranch when the Dodgers head on the road later this week. There is no timetable for his return but McKinstry is expected to miss weeks with the injury.
The Dodgers have been the easiest team in baseball to steal against – and it’s not even close.
Through Sunday’s game, the Dodgers have allowed 26 successful stolen bases in 31 attempts. No other MLB team had allowed more than 15 stolen bases. Roberts placed the blame largely on the pitching staff failing to control the running game rather than on the throwing of catchers Austin Barnes and Will Smith.
“We need to get better,” Roberts said. “That’s one of the things you can always get better as a ball club. But on the pitching side, in particular, varying looks, time to the plate, throwing over and all that kind of stuff. We can always get better. We need to get better at that.”
The Dodgers’ numbers against the running game are exaggerated by the fact that they played those seven games against the Padres, the most aggressive (and successful) base stealers in the majors. The Padres were successful on 18 of 19 steal attempts in their seven games against the Dodgers, including 13 during the four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
“If you look at what they did offensively that was part of their plan, to be aggressive on the bases,” Roberts said. “They’ve got some athleticism on their club and they exploited us. So it’s kind of in the bucket of we need to get better and learn from it.”
The Dodgers are in the middle of a stretch of 14 consecutive games between off days and they still plan to insert a spot starter at some point in order to give their starting pitchers an extra day of rest between starts. Price was an obvious candidate to make that start but now Roberts said it is likely to be a bullpen game.
“That’s all contingent on how this series plays out and then we can evaluate once we get to that next series,” he said.
The Dodgers start a four-game series at Milwaukee on Thursday then play three at Wrigley Field before an off day on May 6.
Reds (RHP Jeff Hoffman, 2-1, 2.66 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Walker Buehler, 1-0, 2.16 ERA), Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network, 570 AM