Heading into the 2018 regular season, one of the biggest concerns for the Dodgers was finding a suitable setup arm for closer Kenley Jansen. Yet, when Jansen was struggling mightily for the first few weeks of the campaign, that worry shifted, as all the focus was on getting the All-Star righty’s mechanics fixed. Now that Kenley appears to be back on the right track, the focal point of the bullpen could fall back on the setup role.
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.
We’re halfway through the third week of spring training and, so far, the Los Angeles Dodgers news from Camelback Ranch has been fairly tame. Norovirus swept through the clubhouse this past week, sending over two dozen Dodgers back to their bunks (and, presumably, their bathrooms) for a couple days before running its course.
With most of the core players returning from last season, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of speculation surroundinging the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster heading into Opening Day. However, there are several spots—most specifically, one outfield spot and a few utility spots on the pitching staff and the bench—which could conceivably be won or lost over the course of the 2018 Cactus League schedule.
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.
As I was watching the game on Wednesday, one of the announcers (I think Orel Hershiser, but my apologies if it wasn’t) made a flip remark about Clayton Kershaw being the stopper, brought in to stop losing streaks. And I thought, “Oh goodness, it’s been three games so far, sure, but no way they’ll need him to stop a five game losing streak.”
With arguably three of the club’s best starting arms currently on the shelf, it’s difficult to believe that the Dodgers still continue to perform at a tremendous rate of success. And despite a nightmarish impromptu start from young righty Brock Stewart against the Pirates on Tuesday evening, the powerful Los Angeles bats lived up to their high profile billing, guiding the squad to its 89th victory of the year. What a shame it is, though, that the offense was unable to muster just a single run in support of Rich Hill‘s spectacular pitching exhibition on Wednesday night.
With all the emphasis on the non-waiver trade deadline recently, it’s been a few weeks since we’ve checked in on any of the happenings within the Dodgers farm system. Triple-A Oklahoma City is holding steady in second place in the PCL American Northern division, while Double-A Tulsa is clawing away at a potential playoff appearance in the Texas League. High-A Rancho Cucamonga continues to lead the way in the Cal League South, appearing to be destined for a postseason run fueled by several powerful bats. And there have been more than a handful of individual performances lately that are certainly worth mentioning.
In this edition of our weekly minor league highlight feature, we take a look at the hot-hitting Edwin Rios and Alex Verdugo of Triple-A Oklahoma City, stop by Double-A Tulsa for a glance at Henry Ramos and Jose Miguel Fernandez, and check the progress of Keibert Ruiz who was just promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga not long ago.