Dodgers Rotation: Who Will Be Named New Opening Day Starter?

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Even though it hasn’t been officially announced, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Clayton Kershaw will not be the Opening Day starter for the Dodgers for his ninth year in a row.

Kershaw has been the ace of the staff for almost a decade, but unfortunately has been sidelined in recent years by back issues. Currently, he’s dealing with a shoulder issue, possibly from pushing himself too hard to try regain his vanishing velocity. He has seen improvements in his throwing sessions lately and seems to be trending in the right direction. Regardless, he has yet to throw a bullpen since he was paused in his spring training regimens, and thus will not be ready for Opening Day.

So since he will not be ready for the first game on March 28 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who should be the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter?

Walker Buehler is the pitcher that pops into most people’s mind first. He is the heir apparent to the Dodgers’ pitching throne, and his hopefully be the ace of the staff for years to come. The Dodgers are holding Buehler back this spring, as Buehler had a big workload last year, more than they were anticipating, and are being cautious with him after his Tommy John surgery in 2015. He just threw his first bullpen of the spring yesterday. I have no doubt there will be plenty of Opening Day starts in his future if it is not this season.

Hyun-Jin Ryu lines up with his bullpen and schedule to be available to start Opening Day. Ryu has been solid in his two starts so far this spring. Although plagued with injuries throughout his Dodgers’ career, he’s been a workhorse when healthy, and would be a solid pick for Opening Day starter.

Kenta Maeda has also put in the time to make a case for Opening Day starter. He’s logged 435.1 innings in 100 games over three years for the Dodgers, both in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen. He’s had his contract manipulated so it’s been team friendly, with bonuses and options, and Maeda has handled it all with aplomb. An Opening Day start could make up for the times he was relegated to the ‘pen throughout the playoffs.

There’s a new thought in the Majors to use a relief pitcher as a starter. So in that vein, why not give Kenley Jansen the start? Okay, I know that would never happen, but it’s fun to think about.

But we all know who the rightful Opening Day starter should be if it’s not Clayton Kershaw, and that is Rich Hill. After dealing with blister issues after his trade from the Oakland A’s in 2016, Hill has taken his place as a excellent addition to the Dodgers’ pitching staff. We all know his journey back the bigs and the tragedy in his personal life. He has the best leg kick in the league, and a fire on the mound that is invigorating. He is intelligent and thoughtful off the mound, and for all those reasons and more, is deserving of the Opening Day honor.

A tweet from Eric Stephen shows that Hill will be 39 years and 17 days old on March 28th, the oldest Opening Day starter the Dodgers have had since 1945. No one on the staff deserves it more, and we should be treated to some “Evenflow” to start the season off on the right foot, or left leg kick.

 

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26 thoughts on “Dodgers Rotation: Who Will Be Named New Opening Day Starter?

  1. I also think Hill gets the nod. He deserves the honor. He is generally pretty good against the Dirt Bags. They no longer have Goldschmidt. And most of their power seems to be from the left side. Makes sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bullpen game. Urias, Stripling, Ferguson, 3 innings each.

    I really don’t care who gets the start. Buehler is our best pitcher. Why not him? He threw 160 innings last year so he must be healed from the TJ. He’s been off for 4 1/2 months….. why would he need more rest than that? Hill? Yeah, sure. He projects 5.1 per start. Might as well get the first 5 in the books.

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      1. Surprised me too. I think this guy from the Orioles is a side arm pitcher from the left side. That can be scary. They do have a lot of RH relievers who are pretty much the same guy, so you never know why they do some things. Would not be surprised to see Farhan pick him up if he gets to waivers.

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  3. The Dodgers have just handed poor Fields the ultimate insult. The have dfa’d him in favor of a guy that couldn’t make the Orioles roster. The Orioles! He has been on the Orioles major league roster at some point in each of the past three years and each year has gotten progressively worse. I would think that Fields would have some sort of trade value. That won’t be the case when we dfa Hart in a couple of weeks.

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      1. Those who live at the edge should not defy gravity. I’m thinking if it was Buehler, he would still be on the roster.

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      2. Believe it or not, Andy and I chat with Walker’s mom on Twitter every now and then. My guess is that she would never let her son get away with doing something like that. The attitude he shows on the bump is just a big facade. Kid’s really a softee at heart, 😉

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      3. So, it was a lack of proper parental supervision that ultimately caused Fields’ downfall, eh?
        JP Hoornstra tweets that Andy Slater (Dodger Director of Baseball Ops) is the guy who was pounding the table for Hart, “a sinker/slider/sidewinding lefty.”

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      4. He is a very witty guy, but it’s an understated kind of humor. He knows his baseball.
        Just announced: Brock Stewart and Donnie Hart have decided to share a studio apartment in L.A. this season. They don’t expect to ever need it at the same time. Stewart was optioned 7 times last year, Hart was optioned 9 times.

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  4. Tome Seaver diagnosed with dementia. Will no longer make public appearances. Retiring to his vineyard in No-Cal. Kershaw threw about 20 pitches off a mound today which Roberts did not expect. Still not ruled out of making opening day start.Dodgers 6 Angels 2. Pitchers looked pretty good.

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    1. Sad news about Seaver. Hard to believe he’s 74. I can still see him on the mound back in the day. Where did the years go?

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  5. What is baseball coming to when you can’t dip anymore? I’m half kidding I know the real problem with it first hand. Never been a smoker but I’m partial to the Copenhagen.

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    1. Alex, I want you to do yourself a favor and google Bill Tuttle. Tuttle was an outfielder who played with a bunch of teams. He used chaw most of his career. He developed cancer in his jaw. The pictures of him before and after they removed most of his jaw are just gut wrenching. He lived to be 69, but traveled all through the minors warning the kids about chewing tobacco. What one does is surely their business, but MLB has been trying for years to get players to quit.

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  6. My vote for the guy to start if CK is not ready would be Ryu. It is a day game, and his stuff in the daytime would be wicked. Not saying that Hill would not be very effective in the environment. but Ryu rarely loses at Dodger Stadium. Expecting more cuts by the middle of the week or so. Of the non roster invitees, Perkins and Castro have performed the best. Castro hitting .417 with 5 RBI’s. Perkins is hitting .304. Only has 1 ribbie, but he has looked pretty good with the bat. Garlick and Mora have also looked pretty good. And guess who leads the team in RBI’s, Austin Barnes with 8. Estevez has also had a very good spring with the bat. What should be of some concern are the struggles of Muncy and Pederson. Pederson has 1 hit, a homer and has struck out over half his at bats. Muncy is 3-17 with no homers, and only 2 RBI’s He has walked 4 times and struck out 5. When I have seen him play, he is not driving the ball like he did last year. Pederson’s swing is reminiscent of the flail away swing he had in 2017. Of the players on the 40 man roster who are most likely to make the team, only Taylor, Pederson and Verdugo have made errors. The rest are all on the kids and non roster guys. No one has more than 2. Garcia making a solid case for him to be on the roster. It looks like they are going to expand the rosters to 26 next season.

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    1. When it comes to players with a proven track record, I don’t give a rat’s a** about Spring stats.

      MLB should just follow the Japan model with a 28 man roster that can be changed daily. Also, 12 inning limits. So what the game ends in a tie? Other sports have ties and it works out fine for them. And while we’re at it, can we please get rid of the electoral college? We should be smarter than that.

      Liked by 1 person

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