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.
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.