The San Diego Padres survived the wild-card round, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in three games without their two best starting pitchers. The thinking was if the Padres advanced, then maybe Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet could return from injuries to bolster their chances in the National League Division Series.
But there’s a chance they won’t have them in their attempt to topple the Dodgers.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Sunday that Clevinger and Lamet’s availability will be last-minute decisions. Game 1 is Tuesday at 6:38 p.m. PDT at Globe Life Field. The clubs have until Tuesday morning to submit their rosters for the series.
“We’re trying to keep everything in play,” Tingler said. “We’re not ruling anything out. We’ll see if we can stack some good days. Don’t have info right now. Each one is day to day. Feels like each one will take a half-step forward, another half-step forward, then a half-step back. Gotta stack some good days and see where we’re at.”
Clevinger, 29, exited his Sept. 23 start after one inning with an elbow injury. The right-hander was acquired from the Cleveland Indians less than a month earlier at the trade deadline. The Dodgers didn’t face Clevinger this season.
Two days after Clevinger's exit, Lamet left a start in the fourth inning with a biceps injury. The Dominican right-hander had delivered a Cy Young-caliber season, posting a 2.09 earned-run average in 69 innings across 12 starts. Lamet, 28, held the Dodgers to three runs (two earned) with 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings over two outings during the regular season.
“They’re playing catch,” Tingler said. “They’re building up. They will do bullpens if the catch play goes well.”
Without the duo, the Padres had Chris Paddack start Game 1 against the Cardinals. Zach Davies started Game 2. San Diego deployed nine pitchers in a bullpen game for Game 3. They combined for a shutout.
Rotation depth, however, should become more important in the five-game NLDS than in the three-game wild-card round. The series will not have any off days. Pitchers who can last several innings will be valuable; one exhaustive day for the bullpen could compromise the relief corps in the following days.
“If we have to go five bullpen days, we’ll go five bullpen days,” Tingler said. “If starters go seven, eight, nine innings, then that’s how we’re gonna roll. But we’re gonna roll with what we’ve got, and that’s what I feel confident in.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.