Dodgers: Making an Opening Day Case for Every Starter
Ross Stripling: One of the more underrated pitchers on the Dodgers is Ross Stripling. He has exhibited a team-first attitude during his time with the Dodgers by pitching in any role he is asked to. “Chicken Strip” finally got some recognition around the league last season as he made his first all-star team by virtue of a strong first half in which he went 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA.
Although he struggled in the second half due to fatigue or tipping pitches, he still had another solid season for the Dodgers. Even if Ross does not begin the season in the rotation, he is a near lock to make some spot starts at some point during the regular season. Stripling is one of the “glue” pitchers on the staff and fills in wherever he is needed and always answers the call.
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Kenta Maeda: Speaking of underrated, Kenta Maeda has also been a very underrated pitcher during his time in Los Angeles. After signing a very team friendly deal due to shoulder concerns, Kenta has rewarded the Dodgers with more than they hoped for and also pitched in a variety of roles. From starting pitcher to playoff set up reliever, Maeda has done everything asked of him much like Ross Stripling has.
Last season, the Dodgers relied heavily on Kenta when every pitcher in their starting rotation became bit by the injury bug. He delivered a strong first half pitching to a 3.12 ERA before fading in the second half of the season. Kenta is another pitcher who has put the Dodgers ahead of his own wants, and pitched in every role asked of him. Giving him the opening day start would mean a lot for him.
Regardless of who the Dodgers start on opening day, they will be sending a quality starter out to pitch even if it’s not Walker Buehler. No team has better starting pitching depth than the Dodgers and this April they will flex their muscles without Clayton Kershaw. If it were up to me I would start Ryu or Hill on opening day, both would be very deserving of the opening day start.