Despite the lingering uncertainty in their starting rotation, the Dodgers continue to perform well in the pitching department, even on the days the staff is relegated to bullpen games.
As it stands, the three big guns in the Los Angeles rotation are Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and Julio Urias, all of whom were strategically lined up to throw in the current series in San Diego. David Price has settled into a swingman role nicely, providing effectiveness most nights inside a five to six inning window. Mitch White and Andre Jackson have proven they have the talent to deliver in the final spot.
However, while the Big 3 might be strong enough for a short NLDS series, it could get tougher for the Dodgers as the postseason progresses with only three strong arms available.
Clayton Kershaw Progressing
Lefty Clayton Kershaw has experienced some drawbacks in his forearm recovery leading to speculation he could be used as a reliever, but if everything stays on its current track, there might be enough time for him to settle back into the rotation.
On Tuesday, Kershaw threw a 20-pitch bullpen session before the opener at Petco, and early suggestions have indicated that he feels good so far afterwards.
“It was really good,” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday evening. “I think we’re all excited. Clayton was excited to get off the mound and feel good.”
Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports the next step will be playing a little catch on Wednesday followed by another bullpen a few days down the road. Roberts told Toribio that the next progression for Kershaw will be having him throw his full mix of pitches during a bullpen session, as it was just fastballs on Tuesday. Once that happens, the subsequent progression will be having him throw a 32-pitch bullpen.
While Kershaw is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list on September 5, it’s still entirely too early to put a timetable on a potential return.
Danny Duffy Begins Throwing
Similarly, new lefty Danny Duffy appears to be on track for a September comeback, but Roberts has specified the 32-year-old lefty will be joining the team in a relief capacity.
Nevertheless, Duffy appears to finally be progressing after being shut down completely for more than a month with a flexor strain.
“He just started playing catch,” Roberts said this week. “Obviously, looking at the calendar, I see him in the ‘pen, impacting us at some point because of the lack of time for a buildup. I love having him around. It’s been good for him to see our culture, his coaches, teammates, so once he does get active, he’ll be a lot more comfortable.”
Either way, it should be beneficial for the team to have both veterans among the staff down the stretch run of the season. There shouldn’t be any severe complications to create space on the active roster, as it will expand to 28 players at the beginning of September.