With the return of lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu against the Rockies in Denver on Thursday night, and the prospective reactivation of veteran southpaw Rich Hill during the Giants series next week in San Francisco, the starting rotation of the Los Angeles Dodgers is about to get seven pitchers deep.
Carrying that many starting pitchers on the 25-man roster is almost impossible, unless one or more are shifted to the bullpen, which may eventually be the case for lefty Alex Wood. Outside of a rough outing against the Diamondbacks in mid-April at Chase Field, Wood has been near perfect as a starter. In his most recent start against the Pirates on Monday, he threw five brilliant innings, surrendering no runs on just two hits while striking out 11 batters. And while it’s certainly unfair to Wood to be bumped back into a relief role, it probably wouldn’t be long that a blister or something else would surface that would require his presence in the rotation. Besides, of the seven healthy starting pitchers on the squad, Wood is probably the most effective as a reliever. Well, maybe the second-most effective, anyway.
Righty Kenta Maeda is definitely a candidate for a quick 10-day rest on the disabled list, despite throwing extremely well in his last two outings after a lengthy visit to the office of skipper Dave Roberts. Being put on the shelf for a while wouldn’t be a personal attack on Maeda, but rather an effort to conserve innings. During the homestretch of the regular season and the playoffs last year, he appeared as if he was nearly out of gas, and it may be safe to say that several rest periods over the course of the 2017 regular season could be beneficial.
It will be interesting to see which move is made to create a spot on the 25-man roster for Ryu on Thursday. Even with Adam Liberatore being placed on the DL Wednesday, the Dodgers still have eight men in the bullpen, which could always be shrunk down to seven in a desperate pinch.
As it stands now, staff ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to throw the second game of the Rockies series on Friday with Wood being penciled in for Saturday. Lefty Julio Urias will take the bump on Sunday in the finale at Denver, while Brandon McCarthy will be reinstated from the disabled list to start the first game of the San Francisco series, opening the door for Hill to take the mound on Tuesday. Corresponding roster moves will need to be made to activate both McCarthy and Hill.
Like we mentioned on Tuesday, looking ahead, it’s probably safe to say that barring injury, Kersh and Urias may be the stalwarts of the rotation for the next few months, while a carousel of minor phantom-type injuries could be used to keep the other four arms both rested and fresh. And that’s assuming that Wood is unjustly shifted back to the bullpen sometime after his start on Saturday.
For what many pundits say is a very “good problem to have,” it sure is a bit complicated in theory.
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