There was quite a bit of news coming out of the Dodgers‘ camp on Tuesday, specifically developments regarding the status of the team’s starting rotation.
First and foremost, Hyun-Jin Ryu said he felt much better the morning after he exited Monday’s game with an apparent groin injury. According to some reports, the lefty will throw a bullpen relatively soon, which could mean his stay on the injured list will be minimal.
Clayton Kershaw threw his second minor league rehab start on Tuesday evening for Double-A Tulsa, going six full innings on 81 pitches. He surrendered five hits and two earned runs, both coming off of solo homers. Kersh struck out six batters and walked none. According to several reports, his heater sat in the 88-90 MPH range, topping out at 92.
Rich Hill said his bullpen went well on Monday and it felt normal. There was no problem with his left knee or the brace that he’s wearing. Hill said he threw 41 pitches. Conceivably, the next step for the veteran southpaw may be a rehab start for a minor league squad.
More importantly, Dave Roberts told the media that his squad will not incorporate a bullpen game against Milwaukee on Saturday, which would have been Ryu’s next turn in the rotation. The skipper cited the recent overuse of his bullpen as the primary reason, coupled with the fact that the team will not have a day off until Monday, April 22.
So what does all this mean?
Ryu may be on the fast track to a smooth recovery. Kershaw will likely return this weekend, starting against the Brewers on Sunday. Hill’s window for his 2019 MLB debut may now be inside two weeks. And, the Dodgers will likely need to promote a starter to fill Saturday’s rotation slot.
As far as the promotion goes, the issue of the 40-man is irrelevant because the team has 39 players on the roster right now. As far as possibilities go, I have narrowed my list down to three, although I may be entirely off base. Nevertheless, it’s situations like these that make reporting fun.
The first is Tony Gonsolin. His last outing for Triple-A Oklahoma City was on Sunday when he threw four full innings, surrendering three earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out eight. His next start for OKC would be on Friday, but that could easily be pushed back a day.
Gonsolin is fresh off winning the Dodgers’ 2018 Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. In 26 combined starts last season with Single-A Rancho and Tulsa, he registered a 10-2 record with a 2.60 ERA (37 ER/ 128.0 IP), striking out a combined 155 batters against 42 walks.
Next is righty Dustin May, who garnered many compliments from the big league coaching staff for his efforts during Cactus League play earlier in the spring. His next scheduled start is Wednesday for Tulsa, so if he does not appear for the Drillers, chances will be could that he’ll see a promotion.
May features a four-seamer that can reach triple digits and is believed by many to be maturing at an astronomical rate. Across two levels of the farm last year, he finished with a 9-5 record, posting a 3.39 ERA over 132-2/3 innings with 122 punchouts and 29 walks.
My longshot choice is 31-year-old journeyman Justin De Fratus. The righty last pitched on Monday evening for OKC, tossing six full innings. He allowed three earned runs on six whits while striking out six and walking none. His next scheduled start would be Saturday, the same day as the big league vacancy.
Across two minor league levels last year, he went 7-9 with a 4.74 ERA in 23 starts over 133 full innings. He earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors for the Drillers during the week of April 5, 2018 and captured the PCL Pitcher of the Week award for OKC during the week of May 13.
De Fratus last appeared in the big leagues for the Phillies in 2015 when he threw a whopping 61 games in relief.