Direction of Dodgers’ Rotation Changing Yet Again

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(Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Each time the Dodgers have a defined direction intact in regards to a solidified starting pitching rotation, an old blister, a predetermined innings limit, or some kind of unexpected injury always seems to stand in the way of stabilization when preparing for the stretch run of the regular season.

In Saturday’s game, all expectations of Brett Anderson making a healthy transition back into the rotation fizzled when he departed in the fourth inning with an apparent blister on his left index finger. The 28-year-old lefty surrendered a total of six earned runs on nine hits and two walks, with four of those runs coming courtesy of the Reds‘ first four batters of the initial frame. Although skipper Dave Roberts says that Anderson’s still on course for a Thursday start in the series at home against the Giants, coupled with his wrist injury last weekend, many fans remain skeptical based on the premise of the teams recent luck in the blister department.

On the other hand, rookie phenom Julio Urias has been a godsend in terms of providing innings both as a starter and a reliever, and appears to be getting more comfortable in every outing he pitches. In Sunday’s start, he threw six very strong shutout innings, scattering six meaningless singles while striking out six batters and allowing no walks in what was perhaps his most impressive outing of the season.

The problem with Urias, however, is that he must be coming close to his innings limit which at this point of the season has yet to be revealed, but is believed to be somewhere around the 120 mark. After Sunday’s affair, the lefty has now thrown 102 full frames, including all of his work at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Rookie righty Ross Stripling, who was optioned back to OKC on Friday in favor of Bud Norris, is also believed to be on a particular calculated innings count. Stripling is just a tick behind Urias, having thrown a combined 91 innings at all levels so far this year.

While Roberts has already said that lefty Hyun-jin Ryu has been shut down for the entire season, the seriousness of Brandon McCarthy‘s injury is still vague, as no timetable on a potential return has yet to be revealed.

In a bit of promising news, newly acquired Rich Hill says he feels fine and is now penciled in as Wednesday’s game against the Giants, after successfully throwing 78 pitches in a simulated game last Thursday. Hill hasn’t been on a big league mound since July 17 with Oakland, and many fans still won’t believe his ability to take the  bump until they see him actually throw a pitch. Still, without properly being stretched out for over a month, it’s difficult to see the 36-year-old southpaw endure much more than a full five innings.

In even better news, resident ace Clayton Kershaw was able to throw off a mound for the first time in over four weeks on Saturday. After suffering a setback in his last return attempt, Kersh say he feels 100% and is poised to make another leap in his recovery soon. He’s believed to be targeting an unconfirmed return date of mid-to-late September.

After undergoing elbow surgery in the middle of July, Alex Wood is progressing and hopes to return sometime in the middle of next month in a conceivable relief role. Yet if the injury bug continues to bite the club, and with several pitchers approaching their innings caps, there may be room in the rotation, at least for a spot start.

With all that being said, the Dodgers’ current plan is to run out Scott Kazmir in the finale of the wraparound series on Monday, Kenta Maeda on an extra day’s rest on Tuesday in the opener against San Francisco, followed by Hill on Wednesday. Anderson is scheduled to start on Thursday, although the severity of his blister probably won’t be known until he throws a bullpen early in the week.

Monday’s contest is slated for 9:35 a.m. start time on the West Coast.

 

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