As several pitchers from the season’s original starting rotation begin to get healthy, it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers structure their starting rotation over the coming weeks.
The Los Angeles pitching staff still leads the National League in overall ERA, but it has dropped to second to the New York Yankees for the major league lead after a mediocre week saw the club’s ERA fall to 2.90.
Veteran lefty Clayton Kershaw, who has been on the injury list since mid-May with pelvic inflammation, is set to make his first and only rehab start for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday. According to reports, Kershaw will likely throw three full innings and throw more in the bullpen afterwards depending on the number of pitches. If all goes well, he could join the big-league rotation later next week.
Before being placed on the injury list, Kershaw was 4-0 with an impressive 1.80 ERA and 0.733 WHIP with 32 punchouts over 30 innings of work in five starts.
Southpaw Andrew Heaney, on the other hand, is expected to make several starts in his rehab quest as he recovers from shoulder issues sustained just two starts into the season.
Heaney threw for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday night in his first rehab start, tossing three full innings and allowing one earned run on two hits and no walks with five strikeouts in the club’s 5-2 loss to Round Rock.
Coincidentally, Max Muncy started the game at third base for OKC in a rehab appearance of his own, going 0-for-3 with a walk.
Should Kershaw join the rotation on time, it could signify a move back to the bullpen for righty swing man Mitch White. If Heaney returns sooner than later, the club could go with a six-man rotation, bump a current starter back into a long role, or place someone on the injured list.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson began the year as the team’s long man but has since emerged as one of the staff’s most reliable starters.
Through 10 games, eight of which were starts, Anderson leads the majors with seven wins. His current ERA through 55 innings of work is 2.59 after being a mid-four ERA pitcher for most of his career.
In contrast, Walker Buehler, who was considered the staff’s ace by many on Opening Day, has fallen victim to one of the worst slumps of his short career.
Over his last four starts, Buehler has surrendered 14 earned runs on a whopping 28 hits and six walks. Teams hit .304 against him during that span. The 27-year-old righty went just 2-1/3 innings in his latest outing on Saturday, the shortest start of his career.
Lefty Julio Urias gets the ball for the Dodgers in the finale against the Mets on Sunday.