3 dark horse candidates for the last spot in the Dodgers' Opening Day rotation

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers
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Walker Buehler

Yup. The textbook definition of a dark horse to replace Buehler is ... Buehler himself.

Buehler's timeline for return after missing all of 2023 following a second Tommy John has never been very clear. Although newest estimations have him back in April or May and have noted he's not quite on schedule for recovery, he did hint at a few appearances during spring training. Could Buehler surprise everyone by accelerating in his recovery to the point that he could be ready by Opening Day? Probably not, but also...maybe so? He's been spotted throwing at Dodger Stadium, and both he and the team have emphasized the hard work he's doing to return. If he looks good during a few spring training innings, might the team adjust their timeline to have him back at the start of the season?

Although the realistic, and probably safer answer for both Buehler's arm and fans' expectations is 'no,' it's fun to dream. It's more likely that we'll have to wait until May to see him again, and hopefully the return will be sweet. Until then, the Dodgers will have to take a chance on some internal candidates if they fail to secure another starter, at least until Buehler can be back full-time. It's not an ideal situation, and the team does still seem to be searching for another arm, but it could also be interesting to watch a newbie make a start for a team so dominated by veterans.

If not Buehler, this slot could easily be occupied by INSERT FRINGE FREE AGENT STARTER HERE (Michael Lorenzen?).