The Dodgers looked nice and ready for Opening Day yesterday in their game against the Texas Rangers. Clayton Kershaw went for his longest outing yet, and was dominant — he struck out 11 of the 21 batters he faced in 92 pitches, allowing two hits and one walk. The prime time slot for the game last night showed MLB that its best pitcher he’s ready to go.
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 countdown is on — just two weeks until the Dodgers open up the season against the San Diego Padres. Clayton Kershaw will be the starter that day, but on his last start he looked less than Kershaw-like. Kersh allowed three home runs, four runs total on six hits in five innings. He also had eight strikeouts and two walks.
Even though he had the opportunity to suit up in a pinch and sit in the bullpen at one Cactus League game last year, righty pitching prospect Trevor Oaks is still excited for his first official non-roster invite to the big league camp of the Dodgers, and hopes to take advantage of every single moment.
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.
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.
Just days after Trevor Oaks was removed in the first inning of a scheduled start on Saturday against Colorado Springs with an apparent groin strain, the Los Angeles Dodgers determined the injury severe enough to shut down the righty pitching prospect for the remainder of the season.
As the number of starting pitching options appear to be dwindling with each passing day, the Los Angeles Dodgers may be forced to dip into their reserve of talent at the Triple-A level, where a pair of right-handed pitching prospects seem to be throwing the best baseball of their respective careers.
After having begun his 2016 campaign at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, right-handed pitching prospect Trevor Oaks has settled nicely into the Double-A Tulsa starting rotation, and after Monday’s victory over Springfield, leads all Texas League pitchers with eight wins.