If there’s one thing the 2019 Dodgers have proven they’re good at, it’s being streaky. A four game winning streak followed by a six game losing streak and now they’re in a five game winning streak.
The six game losing streak was precipitated partly by starting pitching not being able to go late into games, and then some members of the bullpen then not being able to carry the load.
Per Rick Krajewski, including last night’s game, the last five starting pitchers have allowed just four earned runs over 34 innings pitched. Five straight quality starts after four in the first 16 games.
Ross Stripling started them off on Sunday hurling a gem just when the Dodgers needed it most. Clayton Kershaw finally returned to the starting rotation on Monday and went seven strong innings. Kenta Maeda went 6.2 innings of one run ball, Walker Buehler 6.1 of the same, and last night, Julio Urias six innings of no run ball.
Now, both Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are both going to return to the starting rotation. Hill will make one more rehab start, most likely on Monday at a location to be determined. He went 4.0 innings in his last start for High-A Rancho Cuchamonga. He issued eight strikeouts and no walks and allowed no earned runs before going to the bullpen to continue his throwing. He has yet to make a start for the Dodgers this season.
Ryu is currently slated to start for the Dodgers in Milwaukee on Saturday, which will push Kershaw’s next start back to Sunday. Ryu will be returning to the starting rotation after suffering a groin strain in his second start of the season. It’s the same injury that sidelined him last year, but this is a much quicker return for the Dodgers Opening Day Starter.
So with the Dodgers rotation being this close to finally being full strength, that means that spot starters Urías and Stripling will see their positions as starters gone. Manager Dave Roberts has said that Urías will be the first to move to the bullpen when Ryu returns. Stripling will most likely make one more start before he also moves to the bullpen.
It makes sense for Urías to move to the bullpen, as he was on a 70-100 innings limit to start the season. He was pressed into service only because of the Dodgers starting the season with two pitchers on the IL. But the way he’s been pitching, it almost doesn’t seem fair.
But, then, its not fair to move Stripling either. He currently leads the pitching staff with an ERA of 2.92, WHIP of 0.97, batting average against of .202, and innings pitched with 24.2.
All of this is to say, after that rough six game losing streak, the Dodgers might have finally figured out the pitching part of their attack. They are so good that two really good pitchers will be relegated to the bullpen for the time being so two other really good pitchers can take their place. As with any season, there will be future IL stints and spots starts needed from Urías and/or Striping down the line. But for right now we can just appreciate how good the Dodgers’ starting pitching staff truly is.