Roberts Says Maeda Will Begin Next Season in Starting Rotation, Not Bullpen

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a deep roster, which is great, but it can certainly make some players unsure of what their role is going to be as the seasons progress.

Kenta Maeda spent time as both a starter and reliever last season, appearing in 39 games and starting 20 of them.

Maeda ranked sixth on the team amongst pitchers in games started, behind Alex Wood, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Walker Buehler, and Ross Stripling.

It’s a pretty crowded field, especially when you also throw in Hyun-Jin Ryu, who spent most of the season injured but still made 15 starts.

There are a lot of viable options for the rotation next season, and it appears that Dave Roberts has already developed a vision for how the rotation will look at the start of the 2019 campaign.

Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Roberts has said that Maeda is going to begin next season in the rotation.

Given that there are five players who got more starts than Maeda last season, and assuming Roberts is going with a typical five-man rotation, this endorsement of Maeda essentially means someone who got more starts than Maeda last season is getting bumped.

Stripling seems like the most obvious casualty since he has been utilized as an option out of the bullpen when the roster is healthy.

He made the All-Star team last season as a starter, but his experience out of the bullpen makes him the most likely to be moved back to the pen next season.

Stripling didn’t start a game until April 30 last season, so there’s the precedent for him not being viewed as a primary starting pitcher when other options are healthy.

It’s also pretty safe to assume that Ryu is going to have a spot in the rotation at the beginning of the season as well, given that he accepted the $17.9 million qualifying offer.

Ryu had a 1.97 ERA in the regular season and started four postseason games, so there are certainly more reasons beyond financial to suggest he’s going to start next season in the rotation.

With the inclusions of Maeda and Ryu, that means that two of the pitchers who ranked in the top five on the Dodgers in starts last season won’t be starting next season in the rotation.

Kershaw and Buehler are obviously going to be in the rotation and with Stripling the most likely to go back to the bullpen, that leaves either Wood or Hill out of a rotation spot to begin next season.

It becomes even more complicated when factoring the role of Julio Urias into the equation, who pitched in seven postseason games after missing much of the 2018 regular season after shoulder surgery.

Urias is probably going to be on some type of innings limit next season, and it’ll be really interesting to see how the team ultimately utilizes him.

There are trade rumors surrounding Wood right now, and there is definitely a market for a pitcher who has a 3.29 career ERA and is only going to be 28-years-old next season.

Hill might be a bit harder to move via trade, given that he’s going to be 39 next season and due about $18.67 million for 2019.

The Dodgers have a talented but crowded starting pitcher group, and the final spot in the rotation between Wood and Hill is likely going to come down to which one gets traded away.

In terms of what to do with Maeda, it’s probably best for him and the team to pencil him in as a starter instead of a reliever.

He has a lower ERA and WHIP out of the bullpen compared to as a starter, but he has a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage against as a starter in a bigger sample size.

Maeda has the stuff and the resolve to face a batting order multiple times, as batters have hit just .238 against him in their second plate appearance with him as a starter.

Stripling has a better ERA, WHIP, batting average against, on-base percentage against, and slugging percentage against as a reliever in his career compared to as a starter.

It’s probably the right decision for Roberts to put Maeda in the rotation for next season, and it’s going to be really interesting to see if Wood gets traded.

Assuming everyone is healthy on Opening Day, the rotation is most likely going to feature Kershaw, Ryu, Buehler, and Maeda in some order.

The final spot is going to depend on if Wood and/or Hill get traded. Stripling has the proven versatility to be wherever he’s most needed, whether that’s in the rotation if there’s not an obvious alternative or in the bullpen if there is a viable option to start ahead of him.

 

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Dodgers Showing Interest in Lefty Pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

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According to the Japan Times, southpaw pitcher Yusei Kikuchi will be posted during the upcoming week, allowing all 30 MLB clubs to bid for the services of the 27-year-old. And, even though the Dodgers are as stacked as they come with lefty starting pitching, they’re among the many squads to be interested in bidding.

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Compared to Last Year, the Dodgers’ 2018 Rotation Is Better Suited for Playoffs

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Even with nine games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Dodgers still have plenty of work to do before they begin preparing for any type of playoff appearance. Still, the club is experiencing success in just about all aspects of play right now, but lately, it’s been the starting pitching that’s been the most effective and dominant.

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Dodgers Roster: Ranking the Arms in the Starting Rotation

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Considering all the obstacles the Dodgers have faced over the course of the 2018 season, starting pitching has not been one of them. Sure, there have been quite a few injuries, but each hurdle prompted somebody new to step into the group and perform admirably. Heck, even young righty Brock Stewart deserves some kudos for the hundreds of thousands of frequent-flyer miles he racked up before the All-Star break.

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Dodgers Offense Will Need to Carry Depleted Pitching Staff

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The Dodgers are facing a tough road to make it back to the World Series. With the loss of Kenley Jansen, a starting rotation not always looking as sharp as they could be (see Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda), and very close divisional race, the next few months are going to be interesting indeed.

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Dodgers Roster: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu Make Another Positive Impact in 2018?

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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.

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The Current State of the Dodgers Starting Rotation

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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.

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Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Trying to Optimize the Starting Rotation

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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.

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Dodgers Roster: A Few Thoughts Surrounding the Starting Rotation

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For as long as the starting rotation of the Dodgers has been bitten by the injury bug so far this season, to say that it’s relieving to see the crew getting healthier would be an understatement. Furthermore, based on the current state of all the available starters in the organization, many fans are wondering if the front office will be searching for another starter to add to the mix as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

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Dodgers’ Starting Rotation Finally Approaching Full-Strength

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If you happened to catch one of several breaking stories during Monday’s rather lengthy delay in Chicago, you would have learned that staff ace Clayton Kershaw may soon be ready for major league action, coming one step closer to bringing the club’s starting rotation back to the original Opening day five.

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