Dodgers’ Starting Rotation Finally Approaching Full-Strength

(Mandatory Credit: Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

If you happened to catch one of several breaking stories during Monday’s rather lengthy delay in Chicago, you would have learned that staff ace Clayton Kershaw may soon be ready for major league action, coming one step closer to bringing the club’s starting rotation back to the original Opening day five.

Before the rain came at Wrigley Field, Kersh threw a three-inning, forty-five pitch simulated game which was contested by big league hitters like Cody Bellinger and Chase Utley, who were swinging legitimately. Skipper Dave Roberts watched carefully, later commenting that he was very much encouraged by the way the ball was coming out of the Kershaw’s hand despite several mechanical flaws in previous sessions.

Recovering from biceps tendinitis, CK returned to the mound on May 31; however, days after his return he was forced back onto the disabled list with a lower-back strain. Many would think that the team would be cautious to bring Kershaw back slowly, but Roberts pointed out that since his activity has been dormant over many weeks, it might make sense to skip any prospective rehab starts.

“You can absolutely make that case and that was our thought,” said Roberts. “When you talk to the player, look at how much he’s pitched the last two months, it hasn’t been a whole lot. To see it in real competition makes a lot of sense.”

Coincidentally, Monday’s sim game came on the four-year anniversary of his only no-hitter against the Rockies in 2014.

A firm decision should be made soon, as the primary consideration could be the way Kershaw feels when he starts moving around Tuesday morning. Regardless, righty Kenta Maeda is back in the rotation and seems comfortable after a five-inning outing against the Rangers last week. He’ll start the first leg of the doubleheader on Tuesday.

(Update: On Tuesday morning, the team decided that Kershaw will throw approximately four innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday, June 23, then be reinstated to the big league rotation for his subsequent start.)

And veteran southpaw Rich Hill, who has been sidelined with yet another blister issue since May 20, will be reinstated to the 25-man roster to pitch the second game of Tuesday’s twin bill. Apparently, Hill has made a few adjustments in his mechanics, but the real test will come by seeing if his left-middle finger holds up after repeatedly throwing his curve to legitimate, big league batters.

With Kershaw, Maeda, Hill and Alex Wood all healthy, the Los Angeles starting five will conceivably be at 4/5 of the original Opening Day rotation. The other missing piece, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, is also on the fast-track for a potential return; however, considering the way that right-hander Ross Stripling is throwing at the moment, it’s tough to see him being bumped out for anyone in the organization.

Additionally, righty Walker Buehler isn’t too far away from rejoining the team. But while there’s a presumable innings limit on the youngster’s arm this season, now may be the best time to give him a rest period, ensuring his ribs are fully healed before he begins throwing again with meaningful velocity.


7 thoughts on “Dodgers’ Starting Rotation Finally Approaching Full-Strength

  1. This rehab start could honestly be Kershaw’s last chance to prove to the Dodger brass that he is, indeed, on the mend. Let’s face it, if his velocity is still hanging around 90-91 mph and his curveball is hardly used at all then it’s time for him to be shut down for the rest of the season and perhaps look into that long-overdue surgery for his bulging disc if only to keep from pondering medical retirement otherwise. Like I said before on here, same physical problems I saw in Dan Haren near the end of his career I’m already seeing in Kershaw so no sense in keeping my fingers crossed here…

  2. Great win in the first game today. Farmer certainly earned a start in the second game, but he’s riding the bench and Cody is getting the start against a southpaw. Bellinger is hitting .215 against lefties this year and is striking out in 37% of his at bats, yet they couldn’t give Farmer a start. Muncy is playing third and JT is resting, so it would have been very simple to play Farmer either at third or first. There is absolutely no reason for Cody to be starting this game that I can think of.

      1. Actually I think the answer is simple. We need to save Farmer for a clutch pinch hit at bat in the 9th instead of giving him 4 at bats throughout the game.

  3. What the front office is doing to Brock Stewart is the equivalent of water boarding. I believe it’s illegal in at least 49 states. They have completely broken him. What a waste of what promised to be a decent pitcher over the last couple of years. They should have the decency to release him instead of putting him through any more of this up and down crap. The second game was lost tonight by the hitters, not by the bullpen. They never should have gotten to that inning in the first place. We’re lucky we won the first game. Conversely, the Cubs are lucky they won the second game. On the bright side, Hill looked very good. Hopefully he can carry this through the rest of the season. I may have misunderstood, but I could swear I heard Joe Davis say that Hill had an ERA in the 5’s through mid June last year and for the remainder of the season he had the best ERA in the league. I’ll take that again.

    1. Through June 15, 2017, Hill’s ERA was 5.14. From his next start on June 21 through September 27, his cumulative ERA was 2.68. That’s pretty good pitching, but it’s tough to believe it was best in the NL.

      1. I agree so I may not have heard correctly. Hard to believe that 2.68 was the best in the league for that period but in any case, it was a very nice improvement. And while I’m doing a mea culpa, Bellinger did contribute more positive than negative in the second game tonight, even though I still think Farmer should have started instead.

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