The Dodgers have a deeper-than-ever postseason rotation humming at the right time in 2020.
Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t need to hear it rehashed. The Clayton Kershaw postseason debate gets more noxious with every bad bounce, ignored great start, and improper Dave Roberts deployment.
This year, though, said fans can at least take a deep breath and bask in the all-consuming blanket that is rotation depth.
Last year, LA boasted budding ace Walker Buehler and Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu in back of Kershaw. This season? Buehler has the worst numbers of any 2-through-5 member of the rotation, sporting an unsightly 3.44 ERA.
Oh, the horror.
In back of Kershaw and Buehler this season will be the revelatory Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, far higher upside options than, say, Rich Hill, a steadying veteran presence who always ended up having to punch above his weight in turning-point playoff games.
It also can’t be forgotten that, last season, Ryu was far from the Cy Young candidate he’d once been by the time October arrived. His 7.48 ERA in August scuffed up his regular season numbers, and despite a 2.13 mark in four Sept/Oct starts, his infallibility had already been pricked.
This time around, with only a 60-game season’s worth of traffic on their arms, the young May and Gonsolin are charged-up options for Games 3 and 4 of a potential NLDS. May’s insane 100 MPH cutter/slider somehow hasn’t led to as many swings and misses as we expected (44 K in 56 innings), but his 165 ERA+ indicates an exceptionally above-average option (though his 4.62 FIP is worrisome). Gonsolin, on the other hand, sports a 2.29 FIP, and is probably a safer choice for Game 3.
That leaves both May and Julio Urias as viable and malleable insurance — they make just as much sense out of the ‘pen as they do on the bump to start an important game. No more cramming Kershaw into a square hole. These guys have got it handled.
This has been a resurgent shortened season for Kershaw, who has returned to the upper echelon with a 2.16 ERA (though his “step back” was a 3.03 mark last season, laughable upon further examination). Not only does he have a cadre of young teammates behind him, but they all appear to be peaking at the right time.
Entering a three-game crapshoot and bizarro world bubble, all you can ask for is preparedness, which the Dodgers have in droves. Likely more so than ever before.