(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
After having seen resident ace Clayton Kershaw show signs of his normal self on Wednesday amidst five scoreless frames in rainy New York, it’s probably safe to say that he’s feeling sharp and ready to lead a charge, while the remainder Dodgers‘ starting rotation is finally beginning to take shape inside the last 17 games of the regular season.
It certainly remains to be seen if the rehabbing trio will have enough time to reach their optimal forms, yet even if all three fail to make an appearance down the stretch of the season, the Dodgers are plentifully stocked and should have no problem fielding a formidable starting five.
As far as the agenda for the upcoming series against the Diamondbacks, lefty Rich Hill will spearhead the Dodgers’ pitching attack and take the bump in the opener against Archie Bradley on Thursday. In what could be the most anticipated pitching matchup of the series, righty Kenta Maeda will start against Zack Greinke on Friday. Brock Stewart and Shelby Miller are set to square off in the third game on Saturday, followed by rookie Jose De Leon facing Robbie Ray in the finale on Sunday.
Keeping this particular starting layout in mind and looking forward to the San Francisco series beginning September 19 at Dodger Stadium, the plan would be to run out Kersh, Hill and Maeda against their divisional foes — a conceivable preview of the club’s intended plan for a playoff rotation.
Along with the aforementioned order of turns, the Dodgers still have Bud Norris to utilize while the rosters are expanded, most specifically to provide Maeda or anyone else with an extra day’s of rest, if needed. Considering the duo of youngsters being closely watched in terms of innings counts, it was made somewhat apparent on Tuesday that rookie Ross Stripling could be used out of the bullpen moving forward, while skipper Dave Roberts has already made it clear that 20-year-old Julio Urias will be working as a reliever for the rest of the season.
All that being said, the next few weeks will provide an audition of sorts as to who would be used as a fourth starter/long man at the onset of the postseason. Our initial thought was Stripling, but Tuesday’s relief appearance in the sixth inning may suggest otherwise. Norris and De León will have a few opportunities to justify a spot on the playoff roster, while there’s also the possibility that McCarthy, Anderson or Wood could squeeze themselves into consideration as well.
Regardless, things are becoming a bit more clear compared to where the teams was a few weeks ago, and with some solid pitching from the starting crew along with some timely offense, the Dodgers could surely solidify a favorable spot when the playoffs roll around in October.