For as long as the starting rotation of the Dodgers has been bitten by the injury bug so far this season, to say that it’s relieving to see the crew getting healthier would be an understatement. Furthermore, based on the current state of all the available starters in the organization, many fans are wondering if the front office will be searching for another starter to add to the mix as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
The latest news surrounding the rotation came on Tuesday when it was reported that Walker Buehler may be ready for big league action very soon. The right-hander is scheduled to throw another bullpen at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, then could be ready for a major league start after he completes a single rehab game at the minor league level.
“Really good intensity, used the whole mix. I was pretty impressed with the way he was throwing. The ball was coming out really well,” skipper Dave Roberts said after seeing Buehler throw on Thursday. “A rehab game makes more sense, but that’s certainly not set in stone. We’ll have that conversation.”
Assuming there are no setbacks with Buehler, it is believed that the Dodgers will likely use a six-man rotation, theoretically providing some extra rest for the entire crew while everyone’s healthy. And while it was understood that Buehler is under some kind of innings limit for 2018, his recent time off could actually prevent a prospective period of absence later in the season.
Everything appears to be going well with staff ace Clayton Kershaw after his return to the mound last Saturday. The lefty looked good in his bullpen session on Monday and is slated to start the series finale against the Cubs on Thursday afternoon.
“Good to be back. Now I can focus on getting better,” Kersh said over the weekend. “Health-wise it’s there. Now it’s just a matter of performance. It’s a good first step.”
One roster adjustment the Dodgers could make soon is optioning lefty Caleb Ferguson back to Triple-A Oklahoma City. For now, he’ll remain with the club to be used as a long man to piggy-back Kershaw, but once CK shows he’s ready to go beyond five or six innings, the team may decide to utilize a better option out of the bullpen.
As far as Wednesday’s game goes, Alex Wood is on the hill for the Dodgers and hopes to gain momentum after his successful start against the Mets last Friday. Picking up the victory, the lefty allowed two runs on six hits and a walk over six innings while striking out seven. He traded zeros with Zack Wheeler through five innings before Cody Bellinger‘s grand slam in the top of the sixth gave Wood all the offense he would need. The quality start was his first in over a month.
Righty Kenta Maeda says he feels the best he’s all year after a stellar seven-inning gem against the Cubs in the series opener on Monday. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out an impressive nine batters in his third start since being sidelined with a hip strain.
“Ever since coming off the DL, I think feeling-wise, it was the best I’ve felt,” Maeda said in the postgame on Monday. “Overall, it was a much better feeling coming into this game than the other ones.”
While veteran Rich Hill was extremely critical of himself last Sunday in his second start back from another blister flare-up, the good news is that there aren’t any signs of the injury returning. The southpaw made it through five innings, giving up five hits and four runs while striking out six with one walk.
“It was pretty sloppy,” Hill told reporters. “Probably half the time, the ball didn’t come out of my hand the way I wanted it to. Obviously I’m really disappointed about it, just the execution of the pitches. That’s really about it. That really is going to bother me for a couple days.”
Nevertheless, with a healthy crew of Kershaw, Stripling, Maeda, Buehler, Wood and Hill, the immediate outlook is very bright as the All-Star break and trade deadlines draw near.