MIAMI — The Dodgers led the Miami Marlins, 3-1, when the eighth inning began Sunday. It had been nine days since the Dodgers held such a slim margin that they needed to turn to a traditional setup man — a drought so long, the game served as a reminder that the Dodgers do not have a traditional setup man.
Brandon Morrow got the call Sunday. Fellow right-hander Pedro Baez had been warming up too, but Baez pitched two-thirds of an inning the day before and Manager Dave Roberts only wanted to use Baez for one batter.
“The way Morrow’s been for us, just has really given me a lot of confidence to start the inning,” Roberts said. “I felt more comfortable with Morrow.”
So Morrow started the eighth and faced three batters. That might have been enough to retire the side, but Marlins leadoff man Dee Gordon beat out a ground ball that handcuffed Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. The play was ruled a single.
Thanks in large part to Gordon’s speed, Morrow was ultimately charged with a run when Gordon came around to score with Jansen on the mound. It was only the fourth run Morrow has allowed in 16 appearances this season. Is he the Dodgers’ setup man now?
No, Roberts said. Besides Baez there’s right-hander Josh Fields, who pitched the sixth inning Sunday.
“Even Ross (Stripling) … I like Ross in that spot too, as far as his ability to execute four pitches,” Roberts said.
While Roberts framed his wealth of options as “the beauty of our ’pen,” it also highlighted the possibility that the Dodgers could acquire a more traditional eighth-inning pitcher.
They have been linked in published reports to Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton, whose 125 saves since 2014 rank fifth in baseball. Jansen endorsed the idea of adding Britton to form a peerless eighth/ninth-inning combo.
Other options include San Diego Padres lefty Brad Hand, Detroit Tigers lefty Justin Wilson, and Chicago White Sox right-hander David Robertson.
Two potential late-inning options…