With Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill out of the picture, the 2020 Dodgers starting rotation will look a lot different than it has over the last few years.
There is only a little over a month left in the offseason and with only a few major free agents available, the Dodgers starting rotation is seemingly locked in. While Hill’s 2019 role was certainly diminished (he threw less than 60 innings), Ryu’s All-Star campaign will leave a much larger void. In this article, I’ll break down who is in and who is on the fringes of the probable 2020 rotation in LA.
Starting Rotation Locks:
Clayton Kershaw– Kershaw, will be entering his 13th season and is a definite lock in the one or two spot in the rotation. While Kershaw may not be the pitcher he once was he is still an ace. If Kershaw can limit the home runs, he should find even more success than his 3.03 ERA finish in 2019.
Walker Buehler– With Ryu moving on, Buehler has solidified his presence as a starter in the rotation. Look for Buehler to increase his innings this year up to the 200 innings plateau and start to become one of baseball’s best pitchers in 2020. While his national hype is still low, a big 250+ strikeouts season with an ERA closer to 3.00 could change that for the former Vanderbilt standout.
Kenta Maeda– Due to Maeda’s contract situation and his desire to start games rather than enter them in relief, Maeda will likely be the third starter in the rotation, even though plenty of fans still want to see him coming out of the bullpen in October.
Starting Rotation Question Marks:
With the Dodgers 2020 staff looking to be led by Kershaw, Buehler, and Maeda in 2020 that leaves two spots in a five-man rotation.
Ross Stripling– Due to injuries in the Dodgers rotation, Stripling finally got the time to shine for more than one spot start back in 2018. He ended up being an All-Star that season, although after the All-Star break fatigue would catch up to him as he was reaching his career-high in innings. Due to this and his second-half struggles, Stripling was demoted back to the bullpen, but he still did finish that season with an ERA just above 3.00 and 136 strikeouts. Stripling will have his chance to join the starting rotation once again in 2020.
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Julio Urias– Similar to Stripling, Urias’s placement on the roster has always been in flux. During the 2016 and 2017 season, Urias saw time as both a starter and reliever. However, a shoulder injury would derail the Dodgers’ plans for their young starter. During the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Urias spent time in the bullpen but with the current holes in the rotation, Urias should get at least 15 to 20 starts as the fourth or fifth starter. Even if the front office limits his innings per start to around five innings, Urias still will be invaluable as the second-best lefty in the rotation.
Tony Gonsolin/ Dustin May– During the 2019 season, Dodger fans were shown a glimpse of their prized young pitchers who after a few starts and adjustments became very good pitchers down the stretch. With key injuries to the starting rotation last year the two young pitching prospects made their mark to be considered for a starting rotation spot in the 2020 season. With the Dodgers missing out on key free agents in the pitching department the front office is counting on the two young pitching prospects living up to their potential in the 2020 season.
The Dodgers have a few question marks for the upcoming 2020 season however, I do believe that the starting five in the rotation will be Kershaw, Buehler, Maeda, Stripling, and Urias. However, if injuries happen you can bet to see May and Gonsolin make their mark in 2020 as well.