Inside depleted Dodgers' pitching plan for the playoffs

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LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers clinched their division Saturday in Seattle, Clayton Kershaw lasted just four innings. He threw 56 pitches, 16 of them fastballs that didn't reach 90 mph, but he didn't allow any runs. His 12 outs were followed by another nine from rookie Emmet Sheehan, who turned the rest of the game over to the team's high-leverage relievers, piecing together the Dodgers' 90th win this season and solidifying their 10th National League West title in 11 years. All told, seven pitchers were utilized.

This, essentially, is the blueprint for October.

The Dodgers will soon field what might be their most short-handed postseason rotation this century, a circumstance that requires ingenuity. Starters will make early exits, will occasionally be preceded by openers and will at times be asked to pitch in tandem. The attrition of their staff demands it.

Dustin May (strained flexor tendon) and Tony Gonsolin (torn ulnar collateral ligament) underwent season-ending surgeries earlier this summer. Noah Syndergaard, signed to a $13 million contract over the winter, was traded away at midseason after several poor performances. Julio Urías, the team's Opening Day starter, is on administrative leave after allegations of domestic violence and isn't expected back this season. And Walker Buehler, who had his second Tommy John surgery 13 months ago, couldn't return in time to pick up some of the slack, an exceedingly ambitious pursuit to begin with.