(Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Veteran Lance Lynn will get a final tune-up before an expected key role in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation during the upcoming playoffs when the National League West champs visit the San Francisco Giants to open a three-game series on Friday night.
The Dodgers (98-61) have clinched the No. 2 seed in the NL playoffs, which means they will draw a bye in the four-team wild-card round next week.
That will give Lynn (12-11, 5.83 ERA) at least a full week of rest before potentially starting one of the first two Dodgers games in the National League Division Series.
"I know what is expected here moving forward," said the 36-year-old right-hander, who has 27 games (eight starts) of postseason experience. "I know what I'm capable of, and (I'll) give it everything I have, especially in the playoffs."
Given his recent form, maybe the additional time off wouldn't be such a good idea for the right-hander. He went 6-9 with a 6.47 ERA in 21 starts for the Chicago White Sox this season before getting traded to the Dodgers, for whom he has gone 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 starts.
Lynn is unbeaten with a 3.50 ERA in his past three outings, going 2-0 with a no-decision. The latter occurred on Sunday at home against the Giants, when he threw six innings and allowed two runs in a game Los Angeles won 3-2 in 10 innings.
He is 1-5 with a 4.27 ERA in nine career starts against San Francisco, 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA in two starts this year.
The Giants (78-81) also have their rotation in mind as they embark on the final three games of their playoffs-less season. But in their case, it's how their 2024 fivesome will line up that's of primary concern.
San Francisco will give rookie right-hander Keaton Winn (1-2, 3.89 ERA) his fifth big-league start in the series opener. The Giants hope the 25-year-old can build upon three September outings in which he averaged just five innings.
The best of the efforts came as a bulk-innings reliever against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 3, when he threw five innings of shutout ball on the road in a 4-0 loss. Winn since started twice, both times against the Colorado Rockies, and served up a total of six runs in 10 innings, with the Giants earning a split in those games.
Winn, who is set to return after spending nearly two weeks on the COVID injured list, has never faced the Dodgers.
With injuries limiting his options, Giants manager Gabe Kapler has used openers on a regular basis in 2023. If there is a positive to the team's shrunken starting staff and disappointing season, it is that the club has gotten to take a long look at several rookies, including rotation prospects Winn, Tristan Beck and Kyle Harrison.
"You can see a rotation forming with (ace Logan) Webb and Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck and Kyle Harrison in a way that we haven't seen since we've been here," Kapler said. "I don't have to list off the rookies who have come up and gotten really meaningful, valuable experience this year, and what historically that means for teams the following year.
"When you graduate Keaton Winn, Kyle Harrison ... and you've got a top-of-the-rotation starter (Webb) that's a core piece and you've got a back-end-of-the-bullpen guy (Camilo Doval) that's one of your core pieces, you can build around that."
--Field Level Media