Had most other squads been forced to replace their Opening Day starter moments before the actual game, there probably would have been a bit of panic followed by concern of the team’s ability to rebound from the adjustment.
In the case of the Dodgers, though, it was just another day at the ballpark.
Since he did not make the team’s active roster right out of the gates, many of us guessed that 22-year-old righty Dustin May would be the first pitcher called upon to make a start in the event of an injury. However, we did not think it would happen so soon. The hope in the opener against the Giants was that May would be just good enough to contain the San Francisco offense while the bats of the Dodgers would shoulder most of the responsibility.
Instead, fans saw the best of both worlds.
Of course, this won’t be the case in every game when the pitching staff works outside of the normal rotation, but it sure is nice knowing there’s a handful of capable arms waiting in the wings.
Clayton Kershaw threw from 90 feet on Friday, which is great news as far as the veteran joining the rotation and making his major league debut go. In the meantime, May will probably make at least one more start, setting him up to throw in the second game in Houston on Wednesday.
Regarding the depth beyond May, the first name that jumps out is Tony Gonsolin. The 26-year-old righty was late in his arrival to summer camp, which was the reason many suspected he was relegated to the player pool. Still, it has been suggested that Gonsolin is being groomed as a starter this year, especially for the reasoning of providing depth to the rotation, much like the case of May. After all, there’s no question that these two youngsters have more talent and higher ceilings than half the guys in the current bullpen, so the reasoning to have them ready in camp is obvious.
The two biggest names below May and Gonsolin are a pair of young right handers in Mitch White and Josiah Gray. The 25-year-old White threw so well in an exhibition game against Arizona that some feel he might be a step above Gonsolin in the pecking order. White is already part of the team’s 40-man roster while Gray is not.
Even further down the line—but still part of the 60-man player pool—are names like Victor Gonzalez, Edwin Uceta, Michael Grove and Andre Jackson, alongside several newcomers from the recent 2020 draft.
The interesting part about the active roster in this abbreviated season is that we’ll soon be seeing cuts, as the roster will be trimmed to 28 players in less than two weeks from now, then to 26 players two weeks after that. Once teams are limited to the original 26-man roster, they will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.
Indeed, health and/or COVID-19 related incidents may be the biggest factor for contending teams regarding participation when the 2020 trade deadline rolls around on August 31.
In the case of the Dodgers, although their depth is seemingly unrivaled across the majors, they’ll need to figure out if there’s enough talent in their starting rotation to guide them to a championship before making any major deals.