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After a rough go of sorts for the starting rotation against the Pirates last weekend at home, the Dodgers head eastbound to begin the Philadelphia series with their two healthiest and most productive stalwarts. Although the forecast appears to be a bit blurry after the first two games of the set, things may not be all that gloomy once the club makes a few decisions and the dust settles.
Kenta Maeda will take the hill on Tuesday after notching wins in three of his last four starts. Maeda is now 11-7 on the year with a 3.44 ERA and leads all Dodgers’ starters with 130-2/3 innings pitched. He’ll be opposed by righty Vincent Velasquez of the Phillies, the same pitcher who surrendered nine earned runs, including three homers, last Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Scott Kazmir will start the middle game of the series on Wednesday, facing off against Jake Thompson. Kazmir’s overall numbers are just a tick behind Maeda’s, and reflect a 4.44 ERA, a 4.35 FIP with a 9-6 record over 127 innings of work, despite being 0-3 in his last three starts.
Thompson has an 8.68 ERA after having surrendered nine hits and nine earned runs in two starts over 9-1/3 innings for the Phillies this season.
Rich Hill‘s timetable for a possible return keeps changing almost daily, so the best guess for Thursday’s season finale is rookie right-hander Ross Stripling. Last Friday, after having been utilized in a mixture of both relief and starting roles, Stripling was stretched out to a full seven innings, despite shouldering the loss against the Pirates. He was only the third Dodgers pitcher to last seven or more innings since ace Clayton Kershaw went out of commission on June 26.
Jerad Eickhoff will pitch for the Phillies in Thursday’s clash. Eickhoff leads the Phillies’ staff in both innings pitched and strikeouts with 143-2/3 and 120, respectively.
Although it hasn’t yet been made official, it’s probably safe to say that Bud Norris will start the opener against the Reds on Friday. Norris has been on the disabled list fighting a bad back, but in a rehab start for Rancho Cucamonga last Saturday, the 31-year-old righty threw 5-2/3 innings, surrendering only four hits, a walk and one earned run while striking out four batters. Prior to the injury, Norris was 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 4.10 FIP in 29 innings of work since being acquired from the Braves.
As far as the second game of the Cincinnati series, lefty Brett Anderson is likely to take his turn in the rotation, but it’s tough to guess if his hand will be 100% healed, or if the Dodgers even trust the southpaw to start still being fresh off a long stint on the disabled list after recovering from back surgery.
While Julio Urias will certainly be considered as a backup plan to Anderson, he’s probably quickly approaching an unspecified innings limit, already having logged 96 innings between both Triple-A and the bigs this season. Brock Stewart was believed to be another option, but was optioned back to Oklahoma City on Tuesday when reliever Casey Fien was activated from the disabled list.
There’s still a possibility the Dodgers consider a waiver trade before the end of the month, and if the front office decides to tinker with the 40-man before rosters expand early next month, it may decide to give Triple-A starters Jose De Leon or Trevor Oaks a quick cup of coffee before gearing up for the stretch run.
Maeda will take his turn in the rotation again on Sunday, while Kazmir will be set to throw in the wrap-around finale on Monday, concluding the seven-game road trip.
The Dodgers will then head back home next Tuesday to begin a three-game series with the Giants.