Things seem to moving in the right direction, as far as the Dodgers‘ pitching staff is concerned. On Sunday, Dennis highlighted how Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are progressing towards Opening Day. On Monday, Kershaw threw an official bullpen for the first time since he was sidelined with a shoulder issue.
Kershaw reportedly only threw fastballs in his bullpen. Afterwards, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said that Kershaw was “free and cleaner” in his delivery today, and it was ” a great first step.” If there are no issues, Kershaw will throw another bullpen in the next two or three days. When asked about Opening Day, Kershaw said, “One step at a time.”
Manager Dave Roberts confirmed on Monday that there was a chance that both Clayton and Buehler could be ready for Opening Day, now only 16 days away. Either pitcher would only be able to pitch for four to five innings if they happen to be the Opening Day starter.
In other pitching news, Birthday Boy Rich Hill will be stretched out to 75 pitches and five innings in a minor league game on Monday. Hill turned 39 and could be in line for the Opening Day start if the team feels the need to hold both Kershaw and Buehler back.
The plan for Caleb Ferguson is to stretch him out to three innings, so he could be a long reliever. There is not much room on this staff if you are a starting pitcher. If all arms are healthy, the rotation would be Kershaw, Buehler, Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda in some order. That leaves out Julio Urias, Ross Stripling and Ferguson. All three of those guys could be in the rotations of other teams. It’s going to be interesting to watch how this plays out as the year goes on. The past few years, the Dodgers had been master manipulators of the 10-Day DL. Now that that no longer exists, one wonders how the Dodgers’ staff will manage the arms to keep them fresh for the playoffs.
Urias has looked especially sharp this spring. In his six innings of work so far, he has allowed just one hit. He also is touching 96 on the radar gun. But because of his recent surgeries, he is on an innings limit, and will not be in the starting rotation for the big leauge team. If last year’s postseason is any indication of how Urias will do in this year’s playoff games, he will be worth the wait.
The Dodgers have made some more cuts from their camp. On Sunday, right handed pitchers Yadier Alvarez and Josh Sborz, along with left hander Donnie Hart, catcher Rocky Gale and infielder Matt Beaty were optioned to minor league camp. RHP Mitchell White and Omar Estevez, Gavin Lux, DJ Peters, Cameron Perkins and Jake Peterwere reassigned to minor league camp.