Dodgers: What Will Rich Hill’s Return Do to the Starting Rotation?
The only real question here seems to be who is most deserving, not that one of the three is not deserving of the rotation spots.
For me, the Dodgers’ biggest struggle in 2019 has been the bullpen. Thus, the team needs to consider which two pitchers will be able to eat the most innings while in the rotation. All three could be good in the bullpen, but not all three have strong resumes in terms of getting deep into games.
Including last season, here are the ratios 6+ inning starts per total starts for each, a measure that provides differentiation between the three solid pitchers.
Ryu- 11 of 19 starts since 2018 (spent significant time on the DL)
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Maeda- 9 of 25 starts since 2018 (spent two+ months in the bullpen in 2018)
Stripling- 12 of 26 starts since 2018 (spent parts of 2018 injured and in the bullpen)
Of these three, Maeda has the worst ratio, not by much though. While it would make the most sense to send Kenta to the bullpen, it feels like, with the three starters injury histories, that a six-man rotation or some semblance of one would be the best strategy.
None of these three deserve to be in the bullpen, so why relegate any one of them there to serve less valuable than as starters. If the trio, or more realistically Stripling and Maeda traded off spending a month in the bullpen and a month as starters with flexibility based on heating up and cooling off, it may be the fairest plan that would squeeze the most value out of each arm.
Of course, I’m not an expert or anything close, but I think putting some creative thought into this problem is certainly acceptable.