The Dodgers will call up their top pitching prospect to start Sunday, per reports.
The Dodgers starting rotation has been held together by duct tape and glue. Brock Stewart and Bud Norris have combined for 12 starts this season, which is definitely a sentence I didn’t expect to type.
During all the starting pitching woes, the Dodgers had a pitcher ready and waiting in the minors. Jose De Leon, who took over the Dodgers’ top prospect slot when Julio Urias lost prospect status, never got the shot. He had a late start to his season as the Dodgers wanted him to bulk up and wanted to limit his innings.
De Leon was passed over a few times due to a 40-man roster crunch. The Dodgers’ 40-man is full enough as is. The Dodgers also needed flexibility as they have a number of players on the 60-day DL (Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier, Alex Wood, Trayce Thompson) that will likely return this season.
De Leon did what a top prospect should do. He made it illogical for the Dodgers not to make room for him. In 16 AAA starts, De Leon had a 2.61 ERA in 86.1 innings. He had been shoving, but his last three starts were particularly dominant. He’s coming off three consecutive 10 K 0 BB outings, and allowed two runs over that span.
Unlike Urias, De Leon will probably help the team through October and possibly even in the postseason. De Leon threw a career-high 114.1 innings last season, so he still has plenty of innings left in his arm. He turned 24 last month, so he’s farther along physically than Urias, who recently turned 20.
Also unlike Urias, it seems like De Leon won’t be thrown in the fire right away. When Urias came up, his first two starts came at Citi Field and Wrigley Field against the Mets and Cubs. De Leon’s debut will come against a Padres team coming off getting swept by the Braves.
De Leon’s activation will cost someone a spot on the Dodgers’ 40-man. A quick runthrough of it makes me worry for the following: Casey Fien, Charlie Culberson, Rob Segedin, Carlos Frias, Josh Ravin and Chris Taylor. To me, these are the most likely candidates to lose their job in a 40-man crunch. Ethier and Kershaw are nearing return, and Wood and Thompson may still be back before the season is over. Those guys have all shown enough where I would be shocked if they aren’t claimed by another team.
It’s always exciting to see a top prospect debut, and Sunday will be no different. De Leon would likely be the top pitching prospect in at least half of the farm systems in baseball. Having him and Urias start in the same series is a nice glimpse into the Dodgers’ bright future. More importantly, De Leon could help this team get to the playoffs and further.
Yes, De Leon is eligible for the postseason. Anyone in the Dodgers’ organization before yesterday is eligible.
In other news, Rich Hill will start Saturday. Seems like his new blister issue wasn’t a big deal. The rotation is finally beginning to take shape.