While there are still a few lingering issues that have affected the general makeup of the big league 25-man roster, injuries have not had a significant impact on the overall performance of the Dodgers so far in 2017. Veteran lefty Rich Hill is prepared to be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list to face the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon, and with a little bit of good fortune, one or two other players may soon follow in his footsteps.
Admittedly for many fans of the Dodgers, veteran lefty Rich Hill wasn’t the first member of the original starting rotation thought to have been destined for a stay on the 10-day disabled list so early in the season. But while this move is more of a precautionary measure than a required need, it’s probably safe to say that Hill’s stay will result more towards the minimum amount of time instead of an elongated period. Even so, it surely doesn’t hurt to take a look at the depth chart beyond the current starting five.
Several scenarios have become much more clear since we published our initial 25-man roster projections for the Oklahoma City Dodgers just under a week ago, especially the prospective components of the pitching staff. The position player portion of the roster will remain pretty much the same; however, the starting rotation will potentially consist of a group of Triple-A veterans, with the exception of one of the organization’s top starting prospects, right-handed sinkerballer Trevor Oaks.
For many fans of the Dodgers, it’s beginning to become an annual occurrence — overwhelming optimism about a stacked rotation in the winter, eventually turning into genuine concern about the prospective starting pitching crew as Opening Day draws near. What was once a highly talented staff extending to the rafters at Triple-A Oklahoma City now has a few gray areas even at the big league level.
While last week’s injury report brought on a bit of concern from many fans of the Dodgers, the outlook for this week is much better, as the two-week mark before the season opener is quickly approaching and the projected 25-man roster becomes a bit more defined.
With the arrival of Opening Day now hovering right around the three week mark, much of the fan focus has steadied on the prospective starting rotation of the Dodgers, as each passing day seemingly has one small happening or event which somehow affects the future makeup of the pitching staff.
Even though the best available arms at Oklahoma City will undeniably be called upon more than once during the upcoming campaign, if the big league starting rotation of the Dodgers somehow stays relatively healthy for the majority of the season, the projected Triple-A rotation certainly has both the required talent and potential to be among the most elite in recent history.
While there’s definitely enough time for the front office crew of the Dodgers to sneak in another roster addition or two before the beginning of spring training, the starting pitching department probably isn’t an area on the agenda to upgrade, as management is already challenged with the task of selecting a group of five pitchers to form a rotation from potentially ten or so healthy arms.
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When we initially decided to take our first look at the Oklahoma City rotation at this point last year, all spots were seemingly up for grabs, with nine different pitchers contending for starting slots at the highest level on the Dodgers‘ farm. The big league pitching staff was still in rough shape, as the front office crew was working diligently to finalize deals with veteran lefty Scott Kazmir and Japanese sensation Kenta Maeda as the final days of 2015 dwindled away.
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If there’s one department that has been inconsistently consistent for the Dodgers over the course of the 2016 season, it’s undoubtedly the starting pitching rotation.
It was only towards the end of last winter, just shortly after the club signed Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, that many fans were calling for a trade of Alex Wood because of the rotation being overcrowded. Resident ace Clayton Kershaw would be the headliner while southpaw Brett Anderson brought up the rear. Sandwiched in between would be Kazmir and Maeda, along with lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who, at the time, was throwing well and poised to join the rotation by Opening Day.