SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Johnny Cueto is not on the San Francisco Giants’ roster for the NL Division Series as manager Gabe Kapler went with his established bullpen after the right-hander missed time through the season with elbow troubles.
San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt is sidelined by a broken left thumb as the playoffs began Friday night but remains optimistic he will heal in time for a return in the NLCS should the Giants advance.
Cueto went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA over 22 outings and 21 starts, making the first relief appearance of his career Sept. 30 against Arizona. Kapler said Cueto didn’t have enough time after healing up to stretch out as a starter, limiting his potential impact on the NLDS roster.
“In particular it’s tough because Johnny has meant so much to the organization and in particular the last couple of years we’ve come to really depend on him as a guy who can keep the mood light, just incredibly entertaining and so fun to watch on the field,” Kapler said before Game 1.
The Dodgers are carrying 12 pitchers and 14 position players for the best-of-five series beginning Friday night at Oracle Park between 107-win NL West champion San Francisco and defending World Series champion Los Angeles, which won 106 games for baseball’s second best record.
Dodgers 41-year-old designated hitter and first baseman Albert Pujols is set to make his first playoff appearance since 2014 with the Angels. He was not in the starting lineup for Friday’s opener.
Slugging infielder Max Muncy was left off Los Angeles’ roster after dislocating his left elbow in the regular-seaosn finale Sunday. The Dodgers are hopeful Muncy could return later in October. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw is out for the postseason with a left forearm injury.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went with left-hander David Price among his 12 pitchers over fellow southpaw Justin Bruihl, who made his major league debut in August and isn’t someone Los Angeles is comfortable with pitching back-to-back days yet.
“I think with David, certainly the experience, the ability to add some length, a neutral arm.” Robert said, adding that Price could be used as an opener in Game 4.
“I think anything should be on the table,” Roberts said. “So for us to continue to see where we’re at in this series come Game 4, whether how the series is at, the shape of our ‘pen, all that kind of stuff certainly has to play into the decision-making.”
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