The Current State of the Dodgers Starting Rotation


Although it’s been awhile since we’ve taken a look at the starting rotation of the Dodgers as a whole, the unit is far and away the best on the Senior Circuit with a 3.31 ERA, if you’re into that sort of stat. Even in terms of WHIP and OBPA, Dodgers starters still comfortably lead the NL pack. If we look at how good the Los Angeles rotation is on a broader scale, there are certainly several groups in the American League which may be better, but that’s something the club can consider later in the season, if the team is indeed able to clinch a spot in the postseason.

As it stands now, the five-man crew consists of Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Walker Buehler, all of whom appear to be hitting their strides as of late. Ross Stripling, who was one of the more effective starters in the first half of the year, is on the shelf with some sort of toe injury, although it appears he will be rejoining the rotation during the upcoming road trip.

Kershaw has undoubtedly resumed his spot as staff ace. He has started seven contests since returning from the DL with a lower back strain, and he has an ERA of 2.23 and a WHIP below 1.00 during that time. The consistency of his velocity, which appeared to be a problem throughout the early stages of the season, is now holding its course, despite the four-seam not being quite where it was in years past. Regardless, Kersh is the headliner of the unit and will spearhead a playoff rotation, should the club get that far.

Consequently, it’s tough to say who’s next in line, as each member of the remaining quartet has shown flashes of promise in recent weeks. Thinking along those lines, if all four pitch up to their potential during the fall months, the Dodgers will be tough to beat, especially when considering the strength of their offense. However, Hill, Wood and Maeda have been known to hit some bad spots at inopportune times (just like the majority of other MLB pitchers), and everybody knows just how important quality pitching is during the fall months.

Wood’s ERA is 3.58 for the year, but he has shown how good he can be lately, as made evident by a solid outing on Friday night against the World Champion Astros. He was pulled from the game early with issues involving cramps and was eventually sent to the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left adductor, a muscle in the groin area. Command seemed to be an issued as of late, as he has allowed 14 walks over his last five starts. Still, Wood could be one of the big three in a prospective playoff rotation, but it will all depend on his health and his performance down the stretch of the regular season.

Hill appears to be healthy despite having dealt with his perennial blister problems earlier in the year. The veteran southpaw allowed one earned run on six hits and a walk while striking out four over six innings in Wednesday’s win over the Brewers. Hill has been excellent over his last three starts, allowing just two earned runs while striking out 23 in 19 innings to lower his ERA on the year to 3.63. That mark is even better since he returned from the disabled list in mid-June— a 2.36 ERA over 49-2/3 innings. In some senses, Hill and Wood are similar in terms of effectiveness, at least when it comes to the numbers on paper.

Lately, Maeda has been dominant, aside from his last start against the Brewers. He took took the loss in that contest after giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out four over 4-2/3 innings. Before the loss, he had tallied a 2.34 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and a 10.8 K/9. The majority of the damage was done on a two-out, three-run homer off the bat of Eric Thames in the third inning, but a high pitch count—102 pitches over 4-2/3 frames—also contributed to the righty’s early exit. Maeda owns a 3.48 ERA through 18 starts this year, but his career-best 3.13 FIP and 10.9 K/9 are great signs, although his success as a reliever in the playoffs last year may play heavily into any postseason decisions. He will take the mound in Saturday’s contest against Houston.

Buehler, who may have the best pure talent of the group sans Kershaw, took the hard-luck loss against the Brewers on Tuesday, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven opposing batters. He surrendered one run in the third inning on a pair of two-out hits, but that was the only damage done. The offense, however, couldn’t pick him up, as the lineup managed just two hits total in the 1-0 defeat. The rookie has struggled some over the past two months, but he wrapped up July with a 17:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 16-2/3 innings and will take a respectable 3.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP into Sunday’s series finale against the Astros.

Both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Urias continue to rehab successfully, but chances are extremely slim that either will fit into the club’s rotation plans during the remainder of the year. Nevertheless, kipper Dave Roberts has already mentioned that Urias could be a factor in the bullpen in September and beyond.


16 thoughts on “The Current State of the Dodgers Starting Rotation

  1. The summer revolving DL door is swinging again. I think we can expect to see several guys getting some jacuzzi time in the coming days. Wood and Bellinger today. Muncy soon. Then Kemp. The staring rotation might all get some vacation time. Hey, all or nothing is exhausting.

  2. What’s with all the groin injuries this year? Ryu, JT and now Wood. Nobody on the starting staff is pitching a huge amount of innings this season so come playoff time we should certainly be able to come up with four healthy, effective starters and none of them should be suffering from overuse. It probably bears mentioning again that at the time he went down, Ryu was our best starter.

    1. Stripling will assume Wood’s spot in the rotation during the upcoming road trip. Like Scoop implied, I think it’s safe to say that all the starting arms will be getting some sort of break over the next eight weeks.

  3. I found it interesting that Doc was using his “southpaw” lineup today even though McCullers is a righty. Then I checked the splits and, as I might have guessed from the lineup, he has been far more effective this year against left handed hitters than against right handed hitters. So Muncy, Bellinger and Grandal sit today and Kike plays first base.

  4. Good thing about having depth up and down that Dodger roster, allows certain issues to take care of themselves like the numbers crunch with the starting rotation of late. Oh yeah, Cuban phenom Vargas finally got the bat going for Great Lakes today: 2-2 with a triple so far. Only took his third game at that level to break through, not bad…Lux already 5-10 since being promoted to Tulsa a few days ago. Think I’ll highlight him in my upcoming minor-league report for once…

    1. Saw an interesting tidbit on Stetson Allie. Promoted to OKC the other day and his first three pitches were clocked at 99,99,99. Maybe you can dig up something on him and maybe we should start paying attention to him.

      1. I think he’s 27 now. Drafted out of high school. Was he throwing 99ish way back when or has his velo improved through the years?

      2. I just checked his stats. Looks like he didn’t pitch from 2013-2016 and just started again after signing with the Dodgers last year. So at least his 27 year old arm is really only about 23 years old.

  5. Got quiet in here. A shellacking like the one last night kinda makes it difficult huh?

    Where to begin?

    I say we start over. Obviously we have proven we aren’t ready to beat these guys, even a short series. Continue pulling names out of the hat for today’ lineup and hope for a different outcome. We get Gerrit Cole today. He’s no good.

    Oh, DL Kemp and Muncy, bring up Verdugo and that other guy, you know, the AAA pitcher that’s ready to step in get some of those World Champion hitters out. His name escapes me at the moment but, you know who I’m talking about.

  6. The saddest part of all is that those World Champion hitters Altuve, Correa and McCann are on the DL so we’re basically playing against half the Astros and losing games. Things will turn around soon enough and we will be chattering again about how invincible we are……………………until we aren’t. And that’s why they say “It’s a long season.”

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