Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on the State of the Starting Rotation

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(Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Without question, as the 2020 playoffs rapidly approach, the biggest roster issue currently on the minds of Dodgers fans everywhere is the state of the starting pitching rotation.

During the winter months—specifically after the team acquired veteran lefty David Price—the Los Angeles starting rotation was seemingly shaping up to be one of the club’s biggest strengths, as well as one of the best in the majors. Even as the Dodgers headed into Spring Training 2.0 without Price, there were still seven or eight viable pitchers contending for the Top 5 spots.

Now, as injuries have reared their ugly heads and a few other players are no longer around, there probably aren’t five true, legitimate starters from which to build a competitive rotation.

Of course, uncertainty looms large. There’s still no idea how serious the injury is to Dustin May’s foot, nor does anybody know how badly Walker Buehler’s blister situation will play out.

Nevertheless, considering that both May and Buehler will miss at least their next scheduled turns in the rotation, the starting crew currently only has three members—Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin, assuming that Gonsolin indeed returns to the starting rotation after his five-inning relief cameo on Thursday night.

From there, it gets sketchy. Victor Gonzalez, who has thrown well since being recalled, is a swing man by trade and could theoretically provide some solid innings if called upon. Dennis Santana has experience starting, but he’s still lacking confidence, which has evidently hampered him even in some of his mop up appearances. Mitch White is a born and bred starter, but he still has yet to get his first big league nod, despite having appeared in relief several weeks back. In five appearances and 7-1/3 innings this season, lefty Alex Wood has thrown to the tune of a monstrous 5.10 FIP and 1.636 WHIP with five walks.

The hope is that the situation with the rotation is temporary. Many believe that the club is better off facing these injuries now rather than dealing with them in the postseason. Skipper Dave Roberts remains confident with the way things will turn out.

“We’ll know more [soon] with Dustin,” Roberts said after Thursday’s finale in Arizona. “With Walker, he’s on the IL, but once the days are served, we’ll get him where he needs to be. So with him, there’s not a level of concern. I thought Tony was good. So, it’ll be more telling with Dustin. I still feel very confident.”

There’s no question Ross Stripling would be valuable for the upcoming week if he was indeed still around. If you missed Friday’s column, Jose discussed the idea that the Dodgers traded away the right-hander prematurely, rather than waiting until the offseason when there wouldn’t be an emergency need for a starting pitcher.

Hopefully for the Dodgers, both Buehler and May will emerge in the coming weeks in better shape than they were before the brunt of their respective injuries occurred. If not, the Los Angeles offense may need to shoulder a huge load of responsibility heading into October.

In the meantime, Urias takes the hill for the Dodgers at home on Saturday against lefty Framber Valdez and the Astros in the first contest of a short, two-game set.

First pitch is slated for 5:07 p.m. Los Angeles time.

10 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on the State of the Starting Rotation

  1. I don’t believe we traded Strip too soon, and I say that as a big fan of his. He has not pitched well in Toronto/Buffalo so having the ability to insert him into the rotation here is probably no better than taking a chance on White or Gray, and their upside might be a lot higher.
    Looks like our post season prospects may hinge on our offense. At least we can depend on Bellinger, Muncy and Joc.
    Hmmmmm.

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    1. I agree about Stripling. At the time we had plenty of pitching. Still do actually. On paper. Buehler and May should be back. We can do bullpen games now and again if needed. I think we’ll be fine.

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    1. Kenley has now given up 8 runs and 8 hits in his last 1.1 innings.
      Even though the first two hits weren’t exactly smashed, Roberts should have had someone up in the bullpen after the second hit. I really think he doesn’t want to damage KJ’s ego by yanking him so instead he lets him lose the game for us. Poor managing. Looks like maybe we need to make Kolarek our new closer. He’s been great.

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  2. Well, I decided to wait until morning to weigh in … simply too frustrated last night! This is going to sound harsh, but Roberts better get himself together, or this season is going bye-bye. Leaving Kenley in was a huge mistake, was not good for anyone, especially Kenley. But even the game before, with Betts at second, and Kike in right … c’mon! Bellinger looks awful, seems more concerned with his new head band, and the length of his pants, than actually figuring out his stance, over swinging. We have the talent, almost too much … which has left Roberts with too many options. Been playing/watching this game for almost 70 years, and I’m more convinced than ever, that solid fundamentals are the only system that will work consistently. It’s up to the coach to set the tone, so that the guys can actually prosper … and that is not to be their friend, or let the team suffer because someone’s feelings/ego might be hurt. Urias deserved to win last night, not have it squandered with bad coaching decisions. I could go on, but enough … you get my drift. Time to play some consistent, Dodger Baseball!!

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    1. Valid points Bill. It was obvious to all watching Jansen didn’t have it. He should have been gone after facing 3. You don’t get anybody out after facing 3 you are gone, I don’t care who you are.

      Jansen needs to keep working but not the 9th. We have plenty of arms down there and there is no reason not to close by committee. Any of McGee, Treinen, Baez, Kelly, Graterol or Wood could do it depending on if they pitched the day before and who’s coming up in the 9th.

      This one is on Roberts. I hope he learned something but he’s done this before so I doubt it.

      We need a win today.

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  3. Guess I just need to vent today … let me tell you about my grandson. He lives in Georgia, so he got to play around 35 little league games this year. He’s young, impressionable, and loves the Dodgers, in particular, Cody Bellinger. He watches and studies every game that my son will let him watch. At the beginning of this year, he had Belli’s swing down perfectly … long, looping, powerful swings. For several games, about two-thirds of his contact were pop-ups, only occasionally getting all the barrel on the ball. I’m 74, played lots of ball from the age of six through college … but my grandson still thinks that I know what I’m talking about. I know, I know … that will change shortly! Anyway, I spent some time with him, teaching to choke up a couple of inches, shorten the swing, hit the ball where it is pitched. He started to hit like Cory Seager … solid contact, to all fields … you know what it looks like. He hit close to .650 in his last 30 games. On a final note, the other teams started to shift the defense … didn’t work … he laid down half a dozen well executed bunts … and never looked back!

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    1. Two questions Bill:
      1) Is your grandson old enough for us to draft him next August?
      2) Are you available to replace Roberts?
      It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? Why won’t these guys listen to us?

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      1. 35 Little League games is a lot of games. I think my season was like 12 games. We didn’t have that many teams. You dunn coached him up good Bill. (see what I did there)

        Bellinger did his loopy thing last year and it worked most of the year. His post season stats are awful, but he OPS’d over .900 every month but September. This year he’s behind just about everything and it reflects across the board. Hope he finishes strong.

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