09/25/08 9:57 PM ET
Playoff foes will face different Dodgers
LA will begin NLDS on road vs. Cubs or NL East club
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
The Dodgers have not decided if they will go with 10 or 11 pitchers, but Torre said the club will probably go with 11.As for the starting pitchers, Los Angeles scratched Greg Maddux on Thursday in favor of Eric Stults, pushing Maddux back to Saturday -- on a day Chad Billingsley will also toss a couple of innings -- and Hiroki Kuroda to Sunday. Derek Lowe will start Friday to put him in line to start Game 1 on Wednesday, with Billingsley likely to follow him in Game 2 on Thursday on regular rest from his tuneup on Saturday. Kuroda would likely be in line to start Game 3, but it's murky whether the Dodgers would go with a three-man or four-man rotation and whether Maddux or Clayton Kershaw would start Game 4 if they go that way. A three-man rotation would entail Lowe starting Game 4 on short rest, which he is comfortable doing, and Billingsley throwing a potential Game 5 on regular rest. This decision could be influenced by who the Dodgers draw, Torre said. The early clinch will also allow the Dodgers to rest their regulars, with Torre saying he will ask the veterans what kind of rest they need while also helping some of the younger players figure that out. Russell Martin got Thursday off, with Danny Ardoin doing the catching, and Torre planned to take his regulars out early. By virtue of owning the worst record of any division champion, the Dodgers know they will be starting out on the road, but whether they will begin play in Chicago, Philadelphia or New York is uncertain. If the Brewers pull out the Wild Card, the Dodgers will be headed for a showdown with the Cubs because National League-winning Chicago can not play a Wild Card winner from its own division. The Brewers entered play Thursday tied with the Mets in the Wild Card race. The Dodgers went 2-5 against the Cubs this season, but all five of the losses were by two runs or less in well-pitched games in which Los Angeles could not muster enough offense. Of course, with Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake around, the Dodgers' offense looks much different than it did when those games were played in late May and early June. If an NL East team takes the Wild Card, the Dodgers will play the NL East winner, either the Phillies or the Mets. Philadelphia led the division by 1 1/2 games entering Thursday. The Dodgers and Phillies split a bizarre eight games, each sweeping a four-game set at home in August. The series in Philadelphia marked the start of Los Angeles' eight-game losing streak before the club turned it back on by ripping off an 18-5 streak through Wednesday to win the division. Los Angeles went 3-4 against the Mets, with all those games being played in May and early June. Such a series would make for an interesting story line of Torre returning to New York for the playoffs. The Dodgers' Division Series will start with Games 1 and 2 on Wednesday and Thursday on the road, Games 3 and a possible 4 on Oct. 4 and 5 at Dodger Stadium and a potential Game 5 on Oct. 7 on the road. If their opponent has not been decided by the end of the day Sunday, the Dodgers are planning on flying east to Chicago on Monday and then making further travel arrangements if necessary.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.