The Dodgers have been scuffling of late; the team has seemingly been looking forward to October. While this is rather troubling, it is hard to blame the team because despite their struggles they still hold a commanding lead in the division. I will continue this trend of looking ahead and discuss the forgotten man in the Dodgers rotation, Brandon McCarthy.
Brandon McCarthy was quietly having a very solid season for the Dodgers before being placed on the disabled list with blisters. Throughout his career, no one has ever questioned his talent level. The knock on McCarthy has always been his ability to stay healthy.
So far this season, McCarthy has not done enough to shake free these concerns. He has only made 16 starts but is scheduled to come off the disabled list mid-September.
With the deadline acquisition of Yu Darvish, the Dodgers’ starting pitching depth is the deepest it has been in awhile. Come playoff time; I believe the Dodgers will start their rotation with Kershaw, Darvish, and Wood. Rich Hill has retained this offseason to perform come playoff time, so I think that we will be the Dodgers 4th man. What do the Dodgers do with McCarthy?
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Most teams in the playoff shorten their rotation to four men. However, teams usually carry a 5th starter as a spot starter or long relief man. The possible players for this position are Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and McCarthy. Given that that three of the four already chosen are lefties, I believe the Dodgers will look for a right-hander, which leaves Maeda and McCarthy.
Both pitchers are deserving of this position, but I believe this job should go to McCarthy. Maeda has been solid, but his ERA is up from last year, and I can’t seem to shake the images of him being lit up last postseason in his three starts. McCarthy, while he struggles with command at times, has a higher ceiling regarding quality. There are times that he looks like an ace and I believe that he could give the Dodgers more quality innings than Maeda.
This decision may not be a tough one come the end of September. McCarthy still needs to come back and prove to the Dodgers that he can throw strikes. There were a couple of instances this season where McCarthy couldn’t seem to buy a strike. The other scenario is that Maeda puts together a string of solid starts. Only time can tell. One thing is sure about the playoffs; teams will ride the hot hand.