Dodgers Pitching Showing Early Indications of Good Health and Form

(Mandatory Credit: David Goldman/AP)

It’s extremely early to get excited about things that could inherently go wrong down the line for the Dodgers pitching staff, but two things stand out so far. They are happy, and more importantly, healthy.

Happiness probably doesn’t rank high on what fans think should be part of a pitcher’s (or any player, for that matter) condition to play. But while ball players are indeed getting paid to play a kid’s game, being comfortable in your role and job goes a long way to being the best you can be at your job.

We talked on Thursday about Clayton Kershaw, and his multiple offseason hangovers. All the dirt coming out about the 2017 World Series has to have helped ease his mind to finally move on from that Game 5 failure. Along with the long offseason where he had to time to rest and get healthy, he’s ready to face 2020 is a good frame of mind.

So far, there hasn’t been much to worry about with Walker Buehler. He’s been healthy and has pitched well in all of his facets of his major league career. Buehler should be poised to fully take control of the Ace status of the Dodgers pitching staff.

One of these two will be the Opening Day starter. Manager Dave Roberts has said that internally, the decision has been made and announced, but that he didn’t feel the need to announce it publicly. My heart says they will give the honor to Kershaw, but Buehler more than deserves it as as he is now the No. 1 starter, he should be that pitcher to begin the season.

The presumed number three starter, David Price, also seems quite happy with his new role on his new team. He has talked about how he’s learned from his past mistakes, both in pitching and with the media. But his biggest plus this offseason is that he’s finally feeling healthy again. Price had been dealing with extra tissue in his pitching hand due to years of use. He underwent surgery in September to scrape down all of that excess, and the ball is floating out of his hand like it did when he was younger. With the amount of depth the pitching staff has, they can regulate his innings and workload so that he’s ready and healthy for the postseason.

Alex Wood also came (back) into Dodgers camp ready to take over a starting role. 2019 saw Wood traded to Cincinnati, only making seven starts due to back spasms that he couldn’t ever quite recover from. As noted, he spent time with Driveline over the offseason and focused on his health and conditioning. His fastball velocity has been consistently hitting 92-93 MPH. He re-signed with the Dodgers with the caveat that he would be in starting rotation and all indications are he’s looking and feeling good, and will have that fourth starter’s spot.

The Dodgers rotation over the season will be fine. Should any starter here or there falter or hit a little injury, there are so many arms ready to step in and fill in that role. Julio Urías seems to be the one to take the number five slot—that still leaves Ross Stripling, Tony Gonsolin, Jimmy Nelson and Dustin May to be either long relief or to start the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City to be ready when called up. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register today featured an article on Nelson, and how the Dodgers are currently hoping that he may become a Brandon Morrow type of pitcher out of the bullpen. Stripling has been working on another off-speed pitch to compliment his fastball, curve and change up. Pitching coaches, including Orel Hershiser, have been very impressed by what they’ve seen. He may also have picked up a thing or two from Kershaw –

But the most exciting development of all might be that of Kenley Jansen‘s health. In his first outing of 2019 spring training, Kenley’s fastball was sitting at 85-87 MPH. This spring? He’s easily hanging out at 92-93 in his first outing. He struck out two in his first inning of work and looked comfortable doing so. If the Big Man is closer to what he was in 2017, this bullpen is going to be fun to watch again.

Of course, it’s a long season and many things can happen over the next seven months. But with the way things are trending, it’s about time to get excited about Dodger baseball again.


19 thoughts on “Dodgers Pitching Showing Early Indications of Good Health and Form

    1. I think eventually I’m going to have to break down and pay for the Athletic.

      It would seem that the Dodgers pitching is quite strong physically. Seems like all of these guys have got on board the Driveline train and that is all about high tech conditioning. We’ve got at least 7 guys that can start over 20 times and pitch over 125 innings. Buehler, Kershaw and Price don’t have to be pushed toward 200 innings, though Kershaw and Buehler are projected to get close, Price is projected at 150, May, Urias, Wood and Stripling are all capable of 100+, and there’s Gonsolin, Nelson, Ferguson and whoever might be brought up in September. With this depth injuries and fatigue should be easily kept in check. This could be the best pitching staff the Dodgers have seen in years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think there is any mentality of pushing any pitcher to attain 200 innings. If they do it, it will be a by product of being healthy, pitching well and efficiently, resulting in being able to go deep into games. 33 starts at average of 6 innings almost gets you there at 198. Averaging 7 innings would be 231 innings. Kershaw and Buehler, if they get 32-33 starts will get there.


  1. 33 starts and 231 innings? Oh hell no. The ML leader last year pitched 223. If any of our pitchers do that we are setting them up for October failure. This is a different era. Kershaw has already missed time with back issues, Buehler had TJ surgery, Price will be 35 in August and nobody else will get close to 30 starts. Load management. Remember the term. It’s becoming a real thing.

    Interesting way to introduce himself. Standing in front of guys who already know how to win and saying “this is how I roll, and I expect you to do the same”. Went over ok with a few of the guys. I wonder how many might be wondering, as I am, “did you beat us in that series by cheating”. I hope he didn’t, but if it comes out he did I wonder how it might effect clubhouse chemistry.


    1. Harold Reynolds seemed to think that Mookie had to do that, to get out in front of whatever the Sox report will say. I always take whatever Reynolds says with a grain of salt but that was a good theory


    2. I get it. I’m old school growing up in the days of 4 man rotations, 40 starts and 20-25 complete games from the starters. They baby the pitchers today, who are probably in way better condition than those of yesteryear. I cannot stand it when a pitcher can be leading by a safe margin, has given up a walk and a single thru 5 1/3 and the manager comes out to take the ball because he has thrown 90 pitches. Or worse the guy (like Stripling) has a no hitter going thru 71/3 and is lifted. New pitcher comes in and next batter homers.


      1. Man I with you on that Gary. We are both from the era where starters were expected to finish what they started. The last pitcher to throw 300 innings was Steve Carlton in 1980. Before that there were guys in the 7Os who threw over 376 innings. That was a long time ago. Whatever the reason pitchers today are paid a lot more to do a lot less. It’s just how it is. So, that being the case, load management on our starters. We need the top 3 to be ready to go a second season in the cooler days of October. We can do that with a 6 man rotation or we can do that by innings count, and/or time off during the summer. Either way we are set up to make it happen.

        Severino out for the year. We are now favorites to win it all.


  2. Mookie is definitely in a precarious position with so many questions still circling around the BoSux cheating a WS. Like most things in sports, winning has a way of sweeping a lot of shat under the rug. If Mookie storms out of the gate, the team is kicking ass, then he probably is embraced, if not…


    1. I agree with the precarious position point. If it is revealed that Boston did cheat in the Series, how will the team feel about it? Fans are gonna be pissed. Yeah, he’s one of us now, but, that’s kind of a big deal. It’s best to wait before pronouncing anything, but if Betts is a cheater, he’s no better than the ASStros who stole a Championship from us. He can maybe make it up by re-signing with us for less than what Boston will offer. Hope he’s good enough without knowing what pitch is coming.


      1. Sort of like Rockies players, how good are they when they don’t play half their games a mile high, how good is Mookie when he doesn’t know the pitch that is coming? Only time will tell.

        Mantool, is still dead man walking, does he survive this season as commish? Mantool’s crisis management techniques have a lot to be desired, the owners have to be looking at this aspect of Mantool’s ability to be the commish. Do we see such an uproar that the MLB reverses course and suddenly vacates the titles? In my opinion it is too little too late to save the Titanic, that ship is going down.

        March 25 and Joc is still on the team, I think he sticks unless the Dodgers get overwhelmed with a trade offer or AF gets offered a broken-down pitcher for Joc (lol).


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