Sometime within the next 24 hours, Clayton Kershaw will make a decision about his future. He may decide to opt out of the remainder of his contract with the Dodgers and test the free agent market, or he may not exercise the option at all, choosing to finish out the rest of his deal in Los Angeles.
It’s all that everyone’s been talking about—with good reason. What many followers of the Dodgers have considered to be the team’s biggest weakness all year long is finally proving to be true. It took an illness from the team’s All-Star closer to prove, but what folks are now learning is that Kenley Jansen was the single cog which was seemingly holding the entire Los Angeles relief corps together.
Long before the 2018 starting rotation picture began to sort itself out, many folks close to the Dodgers believed that Hyun-Jin Ryu was embarking upon a potentially career-best season, just in time for him to successfully test the free agent market during the coming winter months. Through the end of April of this year, the 31-year-old southpaw had posted a 3-0 record with a 2.12 ERA, a 0.867 WHIP and an outrageous 10.9 K/9, at least by his own standards. Before the emergence of Ross Stripling, and with staff ace Clayton Kershaw fighting off several different ailments, Ryu was leading the charge of the entire Los Angeles pitching staff.
There’s a good chance the current bullpen of the Dodgers will get a bit of a makeover before playoff time, assuming that the team is indeed able to secure a spot in the 2018 postseason. It could be accomplished by utilizing injured players like Josh Fields, Julio Urias or Hyun-Jin Ryu, or management may be able to find a way to orchestrate a waiver trade before the end of August. Furthermore, there will be a few starting pitchers left over come playoff time, conceivably allowing several arms like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood or even Kenta Maeda to throw in relief down the stretch.
Although it’s been awhile since we’ve taken a look at the starting rotation of the Dodgers as a whole, the unit is far and away the best on the Senior Circuit with a 3.31 ERA, if you’re into that sort of stat. Even in terms of WHIP and OBPA, Dodgers starters still comfortably lead the NL pack. If we look at how good the Los Angeles rotation is on a broader scale, there are certainly several groups in the American League which may be better, but that’s something the club can consider later in the season, if the team is indeed able to clinch a spot in the postseason.
In a statement made before Wednesday’s contest against the Brewers, Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts indicated that the Dodgers were preparing to move third baseman Justin Turner onto the club’s active roster Thursday, conceivably unleashing one of the most potent offenses in the National League.
Similar to years past, the Dodgers waited until the closing hours of the 2018 non-waiver deadline to make multiple additions to the player roster. To compliment its move two weeks ago in gaining Manny Machado, the club acquired infielder Brian Dozier from the Twins and righty reliever John Axford from the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
On a daily basis, relievers seem to be being dealt left and right by clubs across both leagues. The supply appears to be almost unlimited, as bullpen pieces account for roughly 1/3 of all major league roster spots, along with the fact that new clubs are joining the seller list with each passing game. Yet, as all these trades continue to be orchestrated, the Dodgers are still relatively quiet. Some believe that they will indeed make one or more upgrades to the bullpen soon, while others feel they actually have enough options in-house to get the job done in the postseason.
Although the injury picture of the Dodgers isn’t quite as bad as it was earlier in the first-half of the year, there have been some instances recently when it has bitten the team in terms of performance, especially considering defensive play like that on Saturday evening at third base.
Seemingly, the starting rotation of the Dodgers continues to get healthier. Many fans of the team were curious to know how management would handle an overcrowded starting five, and they got their answer when Rich Hill was relegated to the bullpen just days before the All-Star break. Now, with the rotation appearing to be at full strength, followers are contemplating whether or not there’s enough firepower to make some noise in the playoffs.