The Dodgers have completed their first road trip of the season, returning home with just a 2-6 record against the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. As my friend Chuck says, just get in and out of those locales without any injuries, and we can call it a success. Mission almost accomplished. During the road trip the Dodgers lost Franklin Gutierrez to a left hamstring strain, placed him on the 10-day DL and recalled Trayce Thompson from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
It’s the series I’ve had my eye on since the schedule was announced last fall — the Dodgers facing the Cubs for Chicago’s home opener. Would the Dodgers be the World Series Champs, and the Cubs be dealing with the what-ifs, or would the Dodgers be faced with watching the Cubs raise the World Series banner?
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.
They’re the team that many baseball experts have picked to be a possible breakout team in 2017 — the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers begin a three-game set with the could-be NL West spoilers on Friday, which is also Colorado’s home opener. The Rockies are sporting the same record as the Dodgers at 3-1. They are in their first year being managed by Bud Black, who most recently was with the San Diego Padres. It’s the Dodgers’ first game at Coors Field since the infamous Andrew Toles grand slam comeback game in August of last year.
Heading into the weekend, skipper Dave Roberts insisted that the battle for the final two spots in the Dodgers‘ starting rotation remained open to four pitchers — Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir. However, after Kazmir’s attempt to gain leverage in the race by facing the Rangers on Sunday, it’s probably safe to assume the competition has been narrowed to three.
On Tuesday, just moments after we began a pessimistic discussion about the state of the Dodgers prospective rotation, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu took the bump against the Brewers and fired four solid innings of one-hit, shutout ball, making a clear argument for himself to be considered among the starting pitching crew when Opening Day rolls around on April 3.
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.
The first week of Dodgers spring training has come and gone, and the first game of the spring is upon us. The Dodgers will play the Chicago White Sox tomorrow, with whom they share the facilities at Camelback Ranch. Slated to be the starting pitcher is none other than Clayton Kershaw. He is expected to only pitch one inning. Taking their place in line behind him will be Alex Wood, Josh Ravin, Jacob Rhame, and Madison Younginer. Starters are expected to play through two at-bats.
Baseball is officially back. Although a skeleton crew of assorted players from the Dodgers has already been at Camelback Ranch for some time, most of the pitchers and catchers began to filter into the clubhouse on Wednesday morning, while the remainder of the squad will report no later than Monday. The initial workout for the battery mates will take place on Thursday morning, and the first Cactus League game will commence at 1:05 p.m. on February 25 against the White Sox.
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.