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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Dodgers Bullpen: Ross Stripling’s 25-Man Roster Chances Are Improving

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(Mandatory Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

While quite a number of spots on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster are presumably set in stone, the bullpen is still a complex gray area that’s loaded with plenty of question marks. Yet after the dust finally settles at the end of March, versatile righty Ross Stripling may have found a spot among the big league relief corps.

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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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Projecting the 2017 Starting Rotation at Oklahoma City

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(Mandatory Credit: Kurt Steiss/The Oklahoman)

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.

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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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Dodgers’ 2016 NLDS Roster Oozes a Ton of Rookie Talent

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager watches his double during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

While it came as a big surprise to many fans that Dave Roberts and the Dodgers‘ management crew decided to reveal the club’s 25-man 2016 NLDS roster three days ahead of schedule, perhaps the most unexpected news was the fact that the squad included a total of seven rookies.

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Dodgers Considering Julio Urías for Starting Rotation in NLDS

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(Photo Credit: mlb.com)

If Julio Urias can find a way to impress team management in his start against the Padres on Thursday night in San Diego, he’ll probably be included on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster for the first round of the NLDS, setting him up to be the potential starter in Game 4.

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Dodgers 2016 Playoff Roster Projections: The Pitching Staff

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(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

After taking a quick look at which position players we thought would begin the postseason on the Dodgers‘ NLDS roster yesterday, today we move over to the pitching staff to project the pitchers that will make up the starting rotation and bullpen.

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Who is Dodgers’ Fourth-Best Starting Pitching Option?

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(Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/AP)

Whenever the front office group of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been faced with any type of impactful decision facing the 25-man roster during the 2016 season, it’s very safe to say that the crew almost always takes the subtle approach, leaving no stones unturned while doing all the required homework; yet it sometimes seems as though their thinking is totally outside the box compared to the average fan’s typical perspective.

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Dodgers Starting Rotation: Latest Projections and Injury Updates

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(Photo Credit: mlb.com)

After having seen resident ace Clayton Kershaw show signs of his normal self on Wednesday amidst five scoreless frames in rainy New York, it’s probably safe to say that he’s feeling sharp and ready to lead a charge, while the remainder Dodgers‘ starting rotation is finally beginning to take shape inside the last 17 games of the regular season.

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