We all hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did, and now the Dodgers are dealing with it. Clayton Kershaw is back on the disabled list with, you guessed it, a back injury. This has become a pattern, as Kershaw has hit the DL each of the past two summers with virtually the same injury. However, this season the Dodgers are more prepared.
Amidst a season that has become somewhat of a roller coaster ride for the Dodgers already, rookie Walker Buehler, who may be on the fast-track to becoming his team’s new ace, is set to make his first-career start at Coors Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Dodgers on Monday afternoon recalled right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler from Triple-A Oklahoma City, as he will make his 2018 debut and his first career Major League start against the Marlins. To create room on the active roster, the club designated right-handed pitcher Wilmer Font for assignment.
It may not have necessarily been pretty, but the Dodgers took two of three from the Washington Nationals over the weekend. Los Angeles has now won six of their last seven games, and have achieved a .500 record for the first time this season.
This year feels slightly different in one area for the Dodgers. In the last couple years, the Dodgers have had an excess of starting pitchers. Not necessarily pitchers that were top-of-the-line, but pitchers they thought maybe could help them throughout the year. They knew they had issues, and they were just hoping for the best. But this year there doesn’t seem to be a true excess of pitching waiting in the wings to step up if one or two pitchers happen to go down.
When the Dodgers began their regular season campaign last year, starting pitching was at such a premium that the best five pitchers on the club weren’t even in the Opening Day rotation. Lefty phenom Julio Urias began the year in extended spring training in an effort to conserve innings, while southpaw Alex Wood was forced to start his year in the big league bullpen. There was also a ton of marginal depth with arms like Brock Stewart and Trevor Oaks on the fringe, and experienced guys like Justin Masterson, Wilmer Font, Fabio Castillo and Jair Jurrjens providing depth at Triple-A Oklahoma City. There was even hope for Scott Kazmir to join the major league rotation at some point, once his ailing hip healed and he sharpened his throwing mechanics.
As most Triple-A rosters normally don’t start taking shape until later in the spring when the big league squads become firm, it’s probably a bit too early to take a stab at guessing Oklahoma City‘s 2018 Opening Day starting pitching rotation. However, with the departure of veterans Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir last weekend, the major league rotation is developing earlier than usual, giving us at least some kind of idea as to how most of the system’s starting pitchers fit onto the organizational ladder.
While the Dodgers left the 2017 Winter Meetings with only a consolation prize of a mid-level infield prospect, many fans have taken to social media to express their respective concerns heading into 2018, especially in the area of the bullpen. It took several years for the team to finally find a competent setup man in Brandon Morrow, yet the veteran righty was able to walk away from Los Angeles and land a lucrative deal with the Cubs for the next several seasons. Andrew Friedman and his troops seem fairly confident in the internal relief options heading into 2018 spring training, but questions loom as to whether the impending bullpen will be talented enough to help guide the squad into next season’s playoff picture.
Very rarely is an entire Double-A starting pitching rotation filled with players who have the potential of landing in the big leagues. Yet, the 2017 Tulsa Drillers had that type of talent and much, much more. After the promotion of several key members to Triple-A Oklahoma City, the organization brought in another handful of starters from High-A Rancho Cucamonga—a group who unbelievably may have had more talent than the original starting crew.