Dodgers: Starting Pitching Depth on Display Early in 2019
The Dodgers began the season without two starting pitchers who have been vital to the teams’ success in Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. The rotation hasn’t missed a beat in their absence.
Back in early March when it started to look obvious that Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t be ready for the season, there was little panic. The Dodgers’ rotation had six other legit starting pitching options not even including talented pitching prospects such as Dennis Santana, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May.
Then later on in March, the news broke just about a week before the season that Rich Hill would be placed on the injured list with a strained left knee. That caused a bit more panic amongst Dodger fans since the club would be without two of its veteran starters that have shouldered a good portion of the rotations’ success over the last few seasons.
Through three games of the 2019 season, the rotation is 2-0 and if the Dodgers hadn’t squandered a 3-0 lead on Friday then the rotation would be 3-0 along with the Dodgers. The rotation has thrown two quality starts and Ross Stripling was just two outs away from giving the Dodgers another quality start after pitching 5 1/3 shutout innings.
The Dodgers’ rotation currently boasts a 2.00 ERA and their two most talented young starters have not thrown a single pitch for the Dodgers yet. Walker Buehler will start today’s series finale against the Diamondbacks and then Julio Urias will start the series opener against the Giants on Monday. Hyun-Jin Ryu was very good on opening day while Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda have given the Dodgers two good starts.
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The Dodgers should get Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill back in the next few weeks but until then the team will continue to boast its biggest strength, depth. Clayton Kershaw will pitch Thursday for the Drillers or OKC Dodgers and Rich Hill continues to progress with a bullpen scheduled for this coming week.
Hill and Kershaws’ return will likely push Ross Stripling and Julio Urias to the bullpen and then the Dodgers will have to make a tough decision on who to remove from their bullpen after Brock Stewart who has options. Urias is on an innings limit and will be in the bullpen for a while Stripling is a quality big league starter but he is the victim of a rotation overflowing with talent.
Last year the Dodgers rotation depth was challenged throughout the season with literally every starting pitcher missing time at one point. This year it was a new kind of challenge as the team was without two veterans who have combined to make 102 starts for the team in the last two seasons.
The schedule will get tougher starting next weekend with the Rockies but even against a non-contender like the Diamondbacks, it is great to see the rotation get off to a strong start. If the Dodgers are going to flip the script and get off to a good start in April unlike the past few seasons, it will be because of their deep starting rotation.