By Jon Weisman
Flexibility is the name of the game tonight for the Dodgers and their move to start reliever Yimi Garcia tonight, with the plan to bring minor-league starter Eric Surkamp in partway through the game.
“We just thought this was going to give us the best chance (and) the most options to win,” Don Mattingly said, adding that the decision came through conversations with the front office.
Mattingly didn’t say exactly when Surkamp would enter the game, but he joked that Garcia isn’t batting in the No. 8 spot of the order “for his bat.” This is the first time that the Dodgers have a starting pitcher batting eighth since 2009, when it happened eight times, according to Baseball-Reference.com. (On each of those occasions, Juan Pierre batted ninth.)
The Dodgers went 4-4 with their starting pitcher batting eighth. Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley each had one single.
For his part, Surkamp said today he was told to “be ready for whatever.” He said he would preserve as much of his starting routine as he could.
“I’m just gonna try to keep everything the same,” said Surkamp. “I won’t get to go out and play catch like a starter would, but I’m going to go out and throw early. And as far as the warmup, (I’ll) try to keep everything in the bullpen the same as what I would do before a start — try to get out of a windup and a stretch a little bit. A lot’s going to depend on how the game’s going.”
Surkamp relieved in all 35 of his big-league appearances with the White Sox in 2014, but he did make 11 starts in the minors last year, to go with seven this year — which he said he was happy to do.
“Getting back to starting when I was down in Oklahoma City was a place where I wanted to be, after throwing out of the bullpen for half the year last year,” Surkamp said, adding that “struggled a little bit with command last year” but had made strides in getting consistency back. He was appreciative of his latest opportunity in the Majors.
“It’s awesome,” Surkamp said. “I think that’s the goal for everybody is to get up here. You’ve just got to put in your time down there, stay with the process and keep pitching.