The Los Angeles Dodgers are continuing to travel down their Spring Training road, as they enter the third week of games preparing them for the 2021 season.
Players are slowly building stamina for what will hopefully be a regular length season. No one know what will happen as teams return to ‘normal’ after a shortened season. This year especially a really deep pitching core seems like it will be important, as no one yet know the impact that the shortened season will have on arms.
One pitcher that is a huge question at the moment is David Price. The right hander has yet to pitch a meaningful game for the Dodgers since he came to LA in a trade with fellow teammate Mookie Betts in February of 2020. He pitched one inning in Cactus League play last March before the whole season was suspended. Price then opted to not play due to health concerns with the pandemic.
The 12 year veteran is back in Dodgers camp, and is looking forward to contributing to his new team. Where he will be in the Dodgers’ pitching plans however remains to be seen.
Before Monday’s game against their facility-mates the Chicago White Sox, Manager Dave Roberts spoke about where he saw Price fitting into the Dodgers’ rotation, if at all.
Roberts said that he does expect Price to be able to be built up to start the season in the opening say starting rotation, but that David is open to fulfilling “whatever role is best for the Dodgers in 2021”. Roberts also said, “I can see him pitching in any role we have for him”.
As Dodger fans know the team has seven pitchers who all could be starters for the team. It was assumed that Price would be the number four starter for the team after Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer. Julio Urías was presumed to be the fifth starter, with Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin either being long men out of the bullpen or perhaps starting the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
If Price is not built up in time for the season to start, could it open a door for either May or Gonsolin to leap frog him for a starting spot? Or could the Dodgers go with a tandem on the fifth day with a tandem of any two of Price/May/Gonsolin? Something to watch as the weeks go on.
Price completed his first outing of Spring Training, looking pretty good. He set down the side in order on 11 pitches, striking out one. His fastball was sitting around 92-93 mph, and he touched 94 twice.
After his outing, Price spoke to reporters, telling them that he brought up the relief pitching first.“Young guys, especially Gonzo, D-May, and Julio, those guys are next level. Right before we signed Trevor, I reached out to Andrew and said, ‘Whatever happens, I’m willing to do whatever you guys need me to do.’”
Urías looked outstanding in his outing on Monday. He pitched three innings, using only 26 pitches to set the nine batters he faced down in order. If he starts the season like he ended it, no other team would have a back end starter anywhere near as capable as he.
Joe Kelly has yet to pitch much since camp began. He has been battling soreness and perhaps is nursing an injury. Roberts said that Kelly “still is a ways away. Whether he starts the season the 10-day injury list remains to be seen but at this point, it does not look good for Kelly to start the season with the team.
Brusdar Graterol also has not pitched in a Spring Training game the season. For undisclosed reasons, Graterol was unable to throw his offseason routine. But he is reportedly healthy, with Roberts saying “Brusdar is ahead of Joe right now. I think Brusdar is in a good spot, even though he started late”. Roberts also said that he thinks that the tentative plan would be for Graterol to start the season. with only one inning of relief.
Brandon Morrow also has yet to appear in a game, and as of Monday no timetable was set for when he would pitch.