The Dodgers Rotation: Some Concerns


My heart sunk on Friday when I heard the news about Clayton Kershaw getting nailed in the jaw by a comebacker during a Spring Training game versus Oakland. I’m sure Brandon McCarthy and Clayton Kershaw shared experiences with each other after the scary moment on the mound. Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet, lost a tooth but kept right on pitching.

His fierce competitiveness fascinates me. Of course he didn’t want to come out of the game. Heck, Kersh pitched through the flu a few Opening Days ago. Even though I’d rather have seen Don Mattingly take Kershaw out of the game out of precaution (it’s only a meaningless Spring game), Kershaw talked the trainers and Mattingly into letting him continue to pitch. It’s hard to say no to the reigning N.L. M.V.P.

Hyun-jin Ryu’s bullpen session on March 14, 2015 at Camelback Ranch. Photo: Stacie Wheeler

I have all confidence that the Dodgers ace will be raring and ready to go come April 6th against the Padres, but there are quite a few concerns I have going into 2015 regarding the Dodgers starting rotation. Scott went over some spot starter options should Hyun-jin Ryu or any of the other slated starters to break with the team for Opening Day (Greinke, Kershaw, Ryu, McCarthy or Anderson) begin the season on the D.L. I would say that Joe Wieland would be one of the next starters on the depth chart behind Anderson, and the right-hander has looked sharp striking out 9 in 9 innings pitched this Spring.

With other options like Carlos Frias, Erik Bedard (tight triceps), Juan Nicasio, Mike Bolsinger and Zach Lee, it’s not necessarily a dire situation if they need a spot start or two in early April if necessary. Yet there are still concerns in regards to the overall durability of the Dodgers rotation for 2015 and beyond. I don’t even want to think about Zack Greinke opting out of his contract after the conclusion of this season right now.

Zack Greinke’s elbow concerns me. Hyun-jin Ryu’s shoulder concerns me. Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson both concern me. Kershaw losing a tooth does not concern me, although the footage of Kershaw’s injury is hard for me to watch.

Zack Greinke looked great in his Alamodome start on Saturday versus the Rangers. Greinke pitched four solid innings allowing just 3 hits and striking out 6. Greinke received a lubricating injection in his elbow earlier this Spring as a part of his routine, and I continue to tell myself that it is indeed just part of his Spring routine and not indicative of a more evasive elbow issue. Greinke’s elbow isn’t as concerning to me as Hyun-jin Ryu’s shoulder.

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My biggest uneasiness in regards to the Dodgers rotation for 2015 is Hyun-jin Ryu’s recurring shoulder issues. With the repeated shoulder problems popping up, it has become more of a chronic problem which brings some worry. Ryu went on the disabled list twice last season, once in April and again in May, with shoulder inflammation. Ryu’s shoulder once again flared up in September, but he was able to pitch in the NLDS. It’s possible that Ryu will be back in mid-April should he begin the season on the D.L., and it could be just another short stint on the D.L. like his previous down time. While a brief disability time for Ryu wouldn’t be that detrimental to the Dodgers since they probably won’t need a fifth starter until April 14th since they have a day off after their Opening Series against San Diego.

The repeated bouts with shoulder inflammation still brings up questions on Ryu’s long-term shoulder health. With Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson’s health histories, the injuries to the pitching staff this Spring makes me thankful that the new front office surmised such a great collection of arms this offseason. Even though I wouldn’t have minded if they would have signed a James Shields or somehow traded for David Price, but I am disappointed that they didn’t resign Chad Billingsley to a new deal which would have been a cheap risk.

The pitching line for Chad Billingsley at the Carpenter Complex today in minor league game (for the Phillies) : 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO on 18 pitches.

Offense doesn’t seem to be the problem for the Dodgers this Spring surprisingly, but the health of the pitching staff will definitely be something which will affect the course of the season for the Dodgers. Be prepared to see some Bedard, Nicasio, Wieland starts with even a couple of Frias, Bolsinger spot starts mixed in. We may even finally see Zach Lee make his Dodger debut at some point. Remember there are always those Red Patterson moments during every season, and that’s okay.