As has long been tradition with such a storied organization, the Dodgers have one of the best, if not the best pitching staff in the Major Leagues. The Dodgers have a League leading 3.39 ERA, lowest WHIP at 1.11, and have given up the least amount of earned runs.
Three starting pitchers for Los Angeles are in the top 10 in ERA for the majors, in Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler. While all three have had some hiccups throughout the year, it is Ryu who is currently showing some cause for concern.
Ryu started out strong, and had an ERA throughout most of the summer that was closer to 1.00 than 2.00. He had a bad outing in Coors Field that most assumed was an anomaly because, Coors. But he’s allowed 18 earned run in his last three outings, seven runs in each of his last two games.
At this point, Ryu has pitched more innings than he has pitched since 2014. A lot of that is due to his injury history, where he’s missed some to all of the last 5 seasons due to shoulder and groin issues. Ryu has also tried to combat the bigger workload by not throwing bullpens between starts, and it seemed to have been working well.
There is a lot of speculation as to if Ryu is quietly nursing an injury, because the last three outings have been so jarring. And even more that he will soon be on the IL with an ‘injury’ of some sort, so he can give his arm some rest before the playoffs. The Dodgers will have no problem staffing the mound for the next month, with Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May pitching well. It would thwart their respective moves to the bullpen, but they could maybe handle another start each. Ross Stripling will also be returning on September 1st, adding another arm to the rotation.
For his part, we know what the issue is with Max Muncy. He was hit by a pitch in San Diego, and as of this writing, still hadn’t had a proper scan of his forearm to see just how bad the damage is and how long he might be out. After Wednesday’s game, Muncy felt that he was hit in the same spot that Chris Taylor was, and if it happened to be same recovery time, would keep him out about a month. That would put him back right for the start of the playoffs, and with no guarantee that his bat would be hot.
Again, the Dodgers could absorb his loss in the lineup and in the field for the next month easily. If there is any silver lining, it comes at an opportune time with the rosters expanding. It may very well force the issue of whether Gavin Lux will just be an observer or pressed into service. Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are both back from their injuries, and David Freese will be back when rosters expand also to help Matt Beaty cover first.
Whatever is it, the Dodgers need The Korean Monster and their Funky Muncy to be back and healthy before the playoffs start in earnest. They quite possibly could handle one or the other not being back or at their best. It would be very tough to have to deal with both not being able to produce. But the one thing the Dodgers have in spades is depth, and let’s hope that’s not truly tested in October.