Leary: Dodgers relievers ‘are gassed’

Former Santa Monica High and UCLA standout Tim Leary pitched 13 years in the big leagues and had his best season for the 1988 World Series-champion Dodgers, going 17-11 with a 2.91 earned-run average in 35 games.

The right-hander threw three scoreless innings in Game 1 of the 1988 Series against Oakland and 3 2/3 one-run innings in Game 3.

Now 58, Leary is serving as a guest analyst for the World Series, today with an assist from deputy sports editor Mike Hiserman.

Hiserman: We’ve had a record 22 home runs hit in five World Series games. Pitchers and coaches have been saying the baseballs seem smaller, harder and slicker. Major League Baseball officials say no. Justin Verlander said before Sunday’s game that people can believe the league office or guys who have been holding and throwing those baseballs for years. What do you think?

Leary: I think the pitchers probably know best, but I don’t know what to think other than I know there are not only a lot of home runs, but some of them are really far. It makes it tougher on the pitchers for sure.

Both bullpens seem to be running on fumes. Do you see any other options other than the way they are being used?

I thought we might see Verlander to start the eighth inning for the Astros. They had a three-run lead and a chance to nail the game down, which would have been huge. They could have started [Lance] McCullers on Tuesday and then still had Verlander ready to start Game 7. Back in the day, it was done all the time. But Hinch knows his guy. [Chris] Devenski is tough as nails. But the other option has been around for more than 100 years.

Two Dodgers relievers who had been really good during the playoffs got roughed up tonight. How did Kenta Maeda and Brandon Morrow look to you? Morrow has now pitched in 12 of the Dodgers’ 13 playoff games.

These guys are gassed. Maeda left a slider in the middle of the plate to [Jose] Altuve. Morrow seems like he’s always facing the best hitters in the lineup. Clearly he doesn’t have the movement and late sharpness he did before. It’s a tough series. Everyone needs a day off.

Each team started a former Cy Young winner on Sunday. Dallas Keuchel didn’t get out of the fourth inning for Houston. Clayton Kershaw, given a 4-0 lead, couldn’t get out of the fifth for the Dodgers. Both pitched so well in the opener of this series. What happened tonight?

Keuchel threw more than 30 pitches in the first inning (86 in his 32/3 innings) and was pitching from the stretch from the second batter of the game. Sometimes pitchers don’t have command of their secondary pitches from the stretch in the first inning and that makes things very difficult against the top team in the National League. With Kershaw, the Astros showed much better plate discipline tonight. Clearly they all had a two-strike adjustment approach off Kershaw, which hasn’t been the norm for any team this season.

Cody Bellinger, after such a tough start in the Series, had another couple of big hits tonight — a home run and hit that was misplayed into a triple. What’s been the difference for him?

On the home run, he got a bad pitch. He got a hanging curveball with two strikes after he’d just taken a fastball away for strike two. That’s poor pitch selection along with poor location. Bellinger swings the same at every count. If he gets it middle of the plate, gone. They threw a pitch to his bat speed. Plus, you know, he hits fourth [usually] for a reason. On the triple, he got a pitch up and away and did exactly what he did last night — just stayed behind it and hit it up the middle.

Through five innings, the Dodgers had walked five and the Astros two. All had scored. Aren’t walks often the downfall of pitchers?

Leadoff walks haunt pitchers, especially when a team’s best hitters are coming up. Two walks by Kershaw and a clear first-pitch mistake to [Yuli] Gurriel for a three-run homer. Walks will get you every time, or at least it seems like it.

What do you make of Justin Turner being the designated hitter in Game 5 rather than playing third base? He came out for a pinch-runner late in Game 4.

At the time he was pinch-ran for, I just figured it was to get a faster runner in, and [Charlie] Culberson, who ran for him, is a great defensive player, so there was no dropoff. I have no idea if Turner is sore. The regulars are not fresh — not any of them. Turner being DH with a day off Monday keeps him less exposed to an injury. Also, playing defense is mentally exhausting. And they kept his bat in the lineup.

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