Dodgers Roster: How Would a Completely Healthy Starting Rotation Look?

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(Mandatory Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Considering the way right-handers Ross Stripling and Walker Buehler have thrown in recent outings, the Dodgers could conceivably have a few tough decisions on their hands should they find all of their available starting pitchers healthy at some point down the road.

Over his last three starts, Stripling has 26 strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings of work. On the season, he is 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA, having tallied 50 strikeouts and nine walks in 41-1/3 innings. On Friday evening, he once again reached double-digits in punchouts, having fanned 10 batters over 6-2/3 innings. His ERA is currently third in the NL among pitchers with at least 40 innings.

In his last start on Monday night, the 23-year-old Buehler allowed just one run on two hits with no walks and six strikeouts over seven strong innings, but his start was wasted after the bullpen surrendered the lead an inning later. Still, his overall numbers are extremely impressive. In six starts, he has a 2.38 ERA and a 2.40 FIP over an even 34 innings with 40 strikeouts—not quite as good as Stripling, but certainly much better than any other of the Dodgers starters, active or injured.

“Walker and Ross, out of spring training, were sixth and seventh on the depth chart,” skipper Dave Roberts said after Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Padres. “For those guys to play huge roles and keep us where we’re at says a lot about those guys, and the organization.”

But it may go beyond Strip and Buehler stepping into their new roles and performing well. Many pundits believe that both have thrown strong enough to remain in the rotation, even all the other starters are available and healthy.

However, as we all know, the injury carousel has its own way of balancing itself out. In addition, it’s no secret that the management crew often likes to use the disabled list to give the club’s pitchers rest periods during the regular season to ensure they’re at full strength for a potential playoff run.

Staff ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday. If everything goes well, there’s a good chance he’ll slot back into the rotation and start Thursday against the Phillies. It’s probably safe to assume that Kersh will displace righty swing man Brock Stewart on the 25-man roster.

And if that weren’t enough, it appears as though right-hander Kenta Maeda is also in a groove of his own. Over his last two starts, Maeda has tossed an even 14 innings of shutout ball, having surrendered no runs on just four hits while striking out 20 batters.

With CK back in the mix, it will give the Dodgers a  starting five of Kershaw, Maeda, Stripling, Buehler and Alex Wood. When assessing how the latter four have been throwing lately as a group, the quartet is arguably one of the best on the Senior Circuit, if not both leagues.

In theory, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is eyeing a return sometime in July, although at this point that’s only a guesstimate. Furthermore, in a similar time frame, southpaw Julio Urias may be close to returning to the mound. And while veteran southpaw Rich Hill has stated that his ailing blister has apparently healed, Roberts is sticking to his initial timetable of approximately four weeks, as the club has no reason at all to rush Hill back, especially when considering the way Strip and Buehler are throwing right now.

Whatever happens when Hill is healthy enough to pitch remains to be seen. Some believe the southpaw may be an option for a middle relief role; however, by the time that day arrives, the landscape of the rotation may have a completely different perspective in terms of who’s healthy and who’s not.

In the meantime, Wood is set to start the middle game of the three-game set on Saturday evening. He’ll be opposed by San Diego right-hander Jordan Lyles. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Los Angeles time.

 

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5 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: How Would a Completely Healthy Starting Rotation Look?

  1. Kershaw, Maeda, Wood, Stripling, Buehler: now THAT’S a Dodger starting core I can live with through this season at least. So damn glad Stripling is using his current stint as a spot starter to finally seize the opportunity to eventually start full-time. He has really been the 2018 version of 2017 Wood so far and keeps getting better and more assured of his stuff with each subsequent outing. He might honestly force either Ryu or Hill off the roster later this season if he keeps trending up, which could lead to potential deals at the deadline in terms of shoring up the pen again (if no in-house options can be found, that is) or just keeping an already well-stocked farm system even more loaded with quality talent and depth. I still think Manny Banuelos will get a call-up fairly soon and if so he should definitely take Stripling’s previous spot in the pen as the proverbial “6th starter”. He’s 100% healthy for the first time in years and in his last start for AAA OKC in which he went 7 strong innings and threw 106 pitches, his fastball was still sitting comfortably in the low-90s. Placing him in that role would pretty much keep the Dodgers from having to rush Urias back too soon and can wait for him to at least have a proper spring training-like period before seeing any real mound action on the parent club when rosters expand in September at least. As for Stewart, he could very well be trade bait at this point for that matter. Based on what I saw in his spot start the other night, he might not even be fully healthy physically and could be in need of some serious DL time. NO WAY should his fastball be sitting around 90-91 mph (and I’m talking about his 4-seamer here, mind you). Reeks of a possible shoulder-related issue, but I seriously hope I’m wrong in my suspsicions there…

    Btw, I don’t know if you heard already but the Dodgers finally promoted their top LHP prospect Caleb Ferguson from AA Tulsa (where he just made a complete joke of that league this season, lol) to AAA OKC the other day and is scheduled to make his debut later today for them. Congrats to another TJ survivor who’s now on the fast track to the bigs much like fellow pitching prospect and current teammate Dennis Santana (Pedro Baez’s eventual replacement, calling it!). Wow, Dodgers certainly have the makings of a VERY nice problem on their hands in terms of what to do with all this pitching they suddenly have at their disposal now. Best way to resolve it: LET THEM FIGHT IT OUT AMONGST THEMSELVES AND SEE WHO’S LEFT STANDING AT THE END! Simple as that.

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  2. Being a baseball fan is like riding a roller coaster. About a week ago we couldn’t figure out how to put 5 decent starters together and today we can’t figure out who to send to the bullpen in order to make use of all of our spectacular starters. My guess is that the real answer is somewhere in the middle and as we well know, injuries will always solve the problem of an overabundance of starters. With all the discussion about Stripling, Buehler and Maeda lately, we shouldn’t overlook how well Wood has pitched. If he had gotten any offensive support this season he could easily be 4-1 instead of 1-4.

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    1. And I think a lot of people have forgotten how well Ryu threw before his injury. The hole the Dodgers dug over the first seven weeks of the season could have conceivably been much, much deeper if it wasn’t for him.

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      1. I’ve always been a big Ryu fan but I’m afraid we may have seen the last of him in a Dodger uniform. From the sound of his injury, it might be a very tough road back this year and, of course, he’s a free agent after the end of the season. With the amount of starters we have who are much younger I can’t see us offering him another contract.

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      2. Oh, don’t worry. Even if Ryu gets a clean bill of health to come back in the second half it will most likely be on another ballclub as a PTBNL in a potential deadline move. Thing is, he was basically pitching well to boost his trade value and it was working quite well up until that untimely groin injury. Was hoping the Dodgers would eventually flip him on an AL West team like the Mariners or Athletics for some nice farm pieces that weren’t big-league ready for another couple years. Oh well, maybe it’ll still happen regardless…

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