Should Dodgers Be Concerned About Prospective Playoff Rotation?

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Normally when the pitching staff of the Dodgers gives up four runs over nine full innings, there’s no reason for concern, as the team’s potent offense is strong enough to cruise past such a deficit.

However, when the bats show up to a game quiet, four runs surrendered by a starting pitcher typically snowballs into criticism and concern about the upcoming postseason.

Indeed, the concern seems to be valid. In recent starts, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw just haven’t been the same pitchers they were that led them to All-Star selections in the first half of the season. Hyun-Jin Ryu was skipped over on his last turn, hoping that a little rest would reignite his mojo which once drew him consideration for the NL Cy Young Award.

And, as far as the fourth starter goes, well, there really isn’t one.

Kersh has given up a whopping 28 home runs this season which puts him in a tie for the fourth-most in the National League, just four behind Yu Darvish, the NL’s worst at 32 surrendered. And, Kershaw’s first inning struggles have led to suggestions about assigning him a personal “opener,” so the three-time Cy Young Award winner can jump into the game in the second or third inning and cruise straight through the late frames.

CK has made 27 starts this season. Over his first 21 games, he carried a 12-2 record with a 2.63 ERA with 141 strikeouts over an even 137 innings of work. Opponents hit .218 against him. He surrendered 15 homers during that time.

Here’s the scary thing: Over his last six starts, Kersh has allowed 13 long balls with a .262 opponents batting average. In that same time frame, he has tallied a 3-3 record with a 5.24 ERA, meaning the squad’s mighty offense typically came through to pad his record with the extra few wins.

Many wonder if a full season has caught up with Kershaw, leaving some to ponder over how much firepower is left in the 31-year-old veteran’s tank.

Buehler has been a little more consistent, but there’s still a bit of a fall off. Through his first 22 games, the 25-year-old righty tallied a respectable 3.08 ERA. But, over his last seven games, he has posted a 3.83 ERA. Another concern for Buehler is the length of his outings, which may have been the reason skipper Dave Roberts stretched him out to six innings on Saturday night. During his last seven games, he has averaged right around 5-1/2 innings pitched after averaging nearly 6-1/3 for the season.

Strikeout pitchers like Buehler sometimes see their respective pitch counts escalate in a hurry, but 5-1/2 innings with a questionable middle-relief crew could pose a potential danger.

At the halfway mark of the year, Ryu didn’t just earn his way onto his first-ever All-Star squad, he was also selected to make the start. At that point in time, in 17 starts, he had a 10-2 record with a 1.73 ERA with 99 strikeouts over an even 109 innings of work—that’s an average of more than 6-1/2 effective innings per start.

Ryu was excellent in his last start against the Mets and Jacob deGrom on Sept 14, despite earning the no-decision, as his offense was not able to click with the bats. Ryu threw seven full shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out six.

Nevertheless, it was his four starts prior to that outing which caused most of the worry. Over those four games, Ryu threw exactly 19 innings, allowing 21 earned runs on a whopping 31 hits, giving him a 9.95 combined ERA in those contests.

Ryu’s 27 starts this year are the most he’s made since he was 26 years old in his rookie year back in 2013. Last season, he made just 15 regular season starts.

There’s been some speculation that the rotation order in the NLDS could be Buehler first, Ryu second and Kershaw third. The reasoning is that Buehler has been the most effective of the three lately and that Ryu has thrown much better at Dodger Stadium. In this scenario, Buehler would throw a prospective fifth game if there’s a need.

As 2019 could ultimately be remembered as the year of the Los Angeles offense, we all know how important pitching is in the playoffs and how critical it is for the entire rotation to be firing on all cylinders.

Especially if the bats decide to be a bit temperamental.


10 thoughts on “Should Dodgers Be Concerned About Prospective Playoff Rotation?

  1. How much firepower indeed. It used to be that when i saw Kersh take the mound in Dodger Stadium, you knew the Dodgers were going to win. You knew he was going to keep the offense of the opposition pretty quiet. Even at the beginning of this season, he usually after the first inning settled into being the untouchable Kersh he has been. My view is that all of the starters, Ryu, Buehler and Kersh are going through some sort of tired arm phase. Ryu was really crisp in his last outing. Buehler has looked very mortal over his last few starts. Kersh has had problems with HR’s. Last night Buehler got the heebie jeebies and gave up two long balls to guys who have not been up in the majors all that long. The offense got shut down by 2 pitchers with ERA’s north of 6. The only 2 runs they scored were unearned. Bellinger, despite his lofty statistic’s has been a .250 hitter for well over 2 1/2 months. He is not only not hitting the long ball, he is striking out or making easy outs. He is getting himself out. Swinging at pitches he could not hit if he was a contortionist. Muncy is out with an oblique problem. It is as if the entire team is slumping a little. 7 games left against the worst the division has to offer. If they cannot win at least 5 of the next 7 games, they are in some serious trouble heading into the playoffs. Too many players are cold. Atlanta, the Cardinals and Brewers are all riding hot streaks. If the Dodgers were the Dodgers of July, they could roll over any of them. Right now I doubt they could beat the Giants.

  2. Today’s lineup Pederson, RF Lux, 2B Turner, 3B Bellinger, CF Seager, SS Pollock, LF Beaty, 1B Smith, C Ryu, P. Sandwiching Lux between 2 vets is a smart move. Me, I either move Bellinger up to 3rd in the order, or drop him to 5th. Seager and Pollock are their hottest hitters right now. They are getting very little out of the catchers spot. Beaty has been ok, but not as hot as he was a month ago. Hopefully Ryu can get his mojo working. The positive is that Ryu is 9-1 at Dodger Stadium this year He has given up 6 HR’s in LA in 13 games. Kershaw has given up 10 in his last 5 games. Rocks get Arenado back today.

  3. Hopefully this gets Belly going again! Keep the faith bear. The playoffs will bring back their intensity. Get Turner and Muncy healthy. Even Cole and Verlander are giving up record hr totals this year Kersh and Buehler will rally and I still think Pollock will be our playoff secret weapon!

    1. Faith is a great thing, but I am most of all a realist. On paper, they have no where near the best starting staff. The bullpen is a collection of good, but no outstanding pitchers. Jansen is a shadow of what he was a few years ago. If the Dodger starters are as good as they were the first 3 months, then the Dodgers will be fine. HR’s are the Achilles heel of the starters on many of the staffs. Here are the HR totals given up by the contenders. LA. 184 TB. 176 Cle, 196 Hou, 226 St,L, 181 Oak, 199 Atl 196 Min, 195 Yankees, 240 DC, 191 Mil, 216. So the Dodgers are not alone in this age of the long ball. The Dodgers according to the stats have the best staff in baseball. Their ERA is almost a run lower than DC. The Astro’s have the largest run differential in the majors now. The Dodgers led in that stat most of the year. The Dodgers strength is the depth this team has. They have players that can play multiple positions But if they are going to finally break the drought, it is going to be the pitchers that are going to have to carry the load.

  4. Should the Dodgers be concerned?

    ontkno if they are but I am. I agree with Bear’s tired arm take. From Spring Training I haven’t believed this staff is 180 games strong. That’s the reason I was calling for a 6 man rotation, all of them getting jacuzzi time. I was also for picking up strong relief at the deadline. We did only the jacuzzi time which was an easy call.

    I saw Bellinger stepping in the bucket on every swing. Has he always done that? I don’t believe so. It opens the hips too soon.

    Hope they are ready.

  5. Here is something everyone should know. In his first 88 games Bellinger hit .336, with 30 homers, and 71 RBI’s. His OPS over that span was 1.124. Since then, over the last games he is hitting .253 with 16 homers and 43 RBI’s and an OPS of .896. His batting average has sunk over that time from .336 to .303. He has had 3 droughts of 12 games without a HR. He is pulling off of the ball a lot more and hitting weak grounders instead of hitting solid line drive like he was over the first half of the year. Unless he starts making more consistent hard contact, the middle of the lineup is missing it’s most dangerous weapon. With Turner not at 100% health and Muncy ailing, they need Belli to be more like the Belli of the early part of the year than the version that they have seen since the all star game. He is also not in my mind the, front runner in the MVP race anymore. Rendon and Acuna have stepped up their game.

    1. He’s pulling off the strike zone. If I can see it Van Skyhack can see it. You gotta step toward the pitcher. Hitting 101.

      He’s the “MVP”. If he doesn’t hit we won’t win …. unless someone takes his place. A rookie maybe? I wouldn’t count on it.

      Not very active in here. Everyone busy with other things?

      1. I watched the Rams. Both Goff and Mayfield looked rather pedestrian. Goff can’t run, doesn’t step up in the pocket and throws into double coverage way too often. Mayfield isn’t off to a good start this year. His pocket awareness is lacking as well. The Rams won but didn’t look all the great in the process. The UCLA game was quite interesting. I’d like to see them take off. They were my team as a high schooler. I got a field pass as a senior. Gary Beban and Mike Garrett were the resident stars. That day was memorable. Beban brought the Bruins back with 2 late touchdown drives.

        If it were me I don’t give Bellinger anything inside.

  6. Well at least Seager is heating up and his power seems to be coming back but we need Belly to heat up also and Turner and Muncy healthy. A lot of question marks entering playoffs

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