All of a Sudden, the Dodgers Starting Rotation Doesn’t Seem So Deep

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.

But there’s no reason to panic just yet. There may be enough arms to go around and provide adequate cover, even if youngsters Julio Urias and Ross Stripling aren’t yet stretched out properly to make a possible emergency start or two, if the need should arise.

The good news is that resident ace Clayton Kershaw appears to be fully healthy and throwing well. And Kenta Maeda, who supposedly took a substantial pay cut because of medical issues when signing two winters ago, is poised to once again be a rotation stalwart and exceed the 30-start mark. What’s more, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu may have finally found his mojo, boxing up his injury history and burying it in the past. Then there’s this 23-year-old sinkerball prospect named Trevor Oaks who impresses pundits with each appearance he makes, while continuing to climb the organizational ladder at a very rapid pace.

The bad news is that Brock Stewart, who was presumably in the competition for a rotation spot early in spring training, is still shut down with shoulder soreness and will likely need to re-establish his arm strength from square one. Scott Kazmir has apparently lost a ton of velocity and has been relegated to bullpen sessions to work on his mechanics. And just yesterday, Brandon McCarthy, who conceivably lines up as the No. 4 starter in the current projected rotation, has requested to appear in a minor league game in his next turn to facilitate his chances of getting through five full innings of work.

In addition to McCarthy’s previous health woes, because of his own injury history, veteran lefty Rich Hill hasn’t made more than 20 appearances in a season since he was a middle reliever with the Indians in 2013. The same can be said lately for southpaw Alex Wood, who only made 14 starts last year after logging 20 or more per season in his first three big league campaigns with the Braves. One can hope for good fortune, but the chances for several instances of impairment to occur between the three over the next seven months could be relatively high.

As it stands now, barring injury, the Dodgers are likely to run out Kersh, Maeda, Hill, McCarthy and Wood, in that order. If one of those five is unable to go, Ryu probably gets the early nod, otherwise staying back at Glendale or starting the year on a shortened minor league assignment. Subsequently, if there is any further sign of poor health, the team probably will begin to stretch out Urías and Stripling, or even temporarily bump Oaks into the 40-man to make a spot start. Indications were that Urías would begin the year in extended spring training, but surely such a plan would be deviated if there was indeed a pressing need. All that being said, and as negative as it sounds, it’s still very much manageable.

In the meantime, fans of the Dodgers everywhere, in addition to the Los Angeles management crew and training staff, will keep their fingers crossed in hopes of the club maintaining good health through the remainder of the Cactus League schedule.

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In other injury news, an MRI administered on Monday showed a mild disc herniation for veteran outfielder Andre Ethier. After being given an epidural, Ethier will be shut down for a period of 7-10 days. Manager Dave Roberts didn’t want to close the door on Ethier making the Opening Day roster, but indicated that “It’s going to be tough.”

Ethier’s absence would presumably create a roster opportunity for Andrew Toles, who could conceivably slide into a platoon scenario in left field with the right-handed hitting Franklin Gutierrez.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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How Does Dodgers’ Starting Rotation Stack Up to Others Around Baseball?

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(Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As a whole, quite a few factors will determine how the starting rotation of the Dodgers compares to those of others around baseball as the 2017 campaign progresses. First and foremost, good health is particularly critical, while overall stamina and endurance will also play key roles in the team’s prosperity. The presence of resident ace Clayton Kershaw probably warrants a Top 20 MLB ranking in itself, yet without the luxury of a true No. 2 starter, the Dodgers slide somewhere right in the middle of the Top 10, at least in the eyes of most informed fans.

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Dodgers Starting Rotation: Progressions, More Predictions & Other Random Notes

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(Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

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.

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Dodgers Spring Training: Do All the Statistics Really Matter?

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The Dodgers just had their first day off of spring training, but some were playing games anyway — just not with the Dodgers. Various players were off competing for their native countries in the World Baseball Classic. There are thoughts against letting MLB players play in this tournament, as risk of injury is always high on the list. I’m sure we all remember Hanley Ramirez and his thumb injury in 2013. But for some players, it’s a way to represent their country, while also working on their skills for the upcoming season.

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Early Signs Could Be Pointing Towards Dodgers’ Opening Day Rotation Plans

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(Mandatory Credit: Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

Five weeks is a whole lot of time. But even though there’s still more than a month of Cactus League play to help the management crew of the Dodgers answer questions about the club’s prospective 25-man roster, early revelations in camp may be indicating the current pattern of thinking when it comes to the team’s starting pitching hierarchy.

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Dodgers Offense Doing Well Early

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The Dodgers are undefeated so far in spring training. Who cares if there’s only been two games? Yesterday’s game was a wild affair, where the Dodgers allowed the Milwaukee Brewers to score seven unanswered runs and still won the game 10-8. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the second game of spring training doesn’t really mean much. But let’s take a look at what does.

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Dodger Baseball: Can’t Hardly Wait

“Lights that flash in the evening
Through a hole in the drapes
I’ll be home when I’m sleeping
I can’t hardly wait

I can’t wait
Hardly wait”

~The Replacements

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It’s a sight for Dodgers fans sore eyes — on Thursday, the trucks were loaded up and headed to Camelback Ranch for spring training. Pitcher and catchers report on Wednesday, one day after Valentine’s Day, a little love note to all baseball fans.

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Dodgers Roster: Constructing a Workable Starting Rotation for 2017

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(AFP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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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Trimming the Dodgers’ 40-Man Roster: Hypothetically

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(Photo Credit: Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)

Before the Dodgers can “officially” ink both reliever Kenley Jansen and infielder Justin Turner to their new respective deals, the front office crew will need to create at least one open roster spot, opening the door for some type of personnel move in the very near future.

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Dodgers Roster: Which Missing Piece is Next on Radar?

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(Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Fans of the Dodgers everywhere were finally given the opportunity to breath a sigh of relief on Monday when the team locked up reliever Kenley Jansen and infielder Justin Turner to long term deals, yet after envisioning what the 25-man roster might look like at the beginning of the 2017 campaign, those same fans are left wondering how many more outside players the front office crew will target.

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