3 Dodgers Opening Day decisions LA might regret soon

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Okay, the Dodgers did technically open their season last week in Korea. However, with the scheduling weirdness that put the team back in spring training blues for three games between the Seoul Series and the Home Opener against the Cardinals, and the fact that they'll have two different rosters for both — they feel a bit like separate entities.

Semantics aside, the Dodgers will at least be back to playing baseball at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. The 26-man will be (re-)finalized and, although changes are more than inevitable, we'll have a full squad and our first iteration the 2024 Los Angeles Dodgers.

The team has looked great for a while now, at least on paper, but with a few last-minute injuries, position changes, and roster cuts in the mix, there are still some decisions that the Dodgers could look back on and wish they could redo in the near future.

3 Dodgers Opening Day decisions LA might regret soon

Not benching Gavin Lux in favor of Miguel Rojas

There are a few related regrets that could branch off of this one — primarily, moving Mookie Betts to shortstop. However, even though Betts never played shortstop until a few short weeks ago and no one should blame fans for having misgivings about his move there, there still seem to be fewer reasons to worry about Betts at shortstop than Lux at second. Besides, Betts wouldn't even be at shortstop in the first place if it weren't for Lux, whose defense at shortstop over the course of less than 10 spring training games was, at times, so difficult to watch that the Dodgers were forced to make changes.

But the question remains: if a move was necessary, why wasn't it to the bench? There has been some commentary since the switch that the Dodgers just had to have Lux's bat in the lineup over that of Miguel Rojas, the easy backup candidate for the everyday shortstop spot. Lux's is certainly is a better bat than the one Rojas has wielded over the past few seasons (Lux hit .276/.346/.399 in 2022, Rojas hit .236/.290/.322 in 2023), but Lux has still been fumbling at second and Betts has been fumbling at short in a predictable cascading set of events.

Maybe this is too pessimistic a view, and we should expect Betts to do what he does best — just be excellent — and for Lux to shape up enough to be serviceable at second. However, the part of the infield they currently occupy is still clearly the weakest part of the Dodgers' defense, and could be cause for some real concern in the near future.

Giving Michael Grove a bullpen spot over JP Feyereisen

Although both Feyereisen and Grove made the trip to Seoul with the Dodgers last week, only one will make the roster for the Home Opener against the Cardinals this week. The Dodgers were holding out hope that Feyereisen would be in the same shape he was in back in 2022 with the Rays, when he pitched 24 1/3 innings for a 0.00 ERA (yes, you read that right) and before he underwent a rotator cuff surgery that led to him being DFA'ed and kept him out for all of last year.

However, his first outing as a Dodger didn't go well — he pitched one inning during LA's second game against the Padres and gave up a three-run home run to Manny Machado, which basically slammed the door on the Dodgers' chances of a resurgent, late-game victory — and he was optioned back to the minors, along with Gus Varland and Landon Knack, the next day. Grove, Kyle Hurt, and Daniel Hudson are all expected to make the Opening Day roster, and should remain with the team at least until Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol come off the IL.

Grove making the team over Feyereisen is curious. They both struggled in spring training this year (9 innings pitched and a 6.00 ERA for Grove, 3 1/3 innings and an 8.10 ERA for Feyereisen), as well as in their first appearances against the Padres. Grove pitched two innings, also in Game 2 of the Seoul Series, and was the pitcher responsible for a three-run rally in the third. It's possible that the Dodgers want to give Grove, a longtime top prospect, more of a shot at the majors after a disappointing start last season, but it certainly seems that he'll be on a short leash.

Promoting Gavin Stone to the last rotation spot in Emmet Sheehan's absence

Sheehan didn't pitch at all in spring training before the Dodgers announced that he would be going onto the IL and wouldn't be available by Opening Day due to shoulder soreness. It left the team in need of a new fifth starter, and given the lateness of the announcement and the fact that the Dodgers have already spent a lot of money this offseason, they looked internally for answers. The race seemed to be between Stone, Grove, and perhaps Hurt and Ryan Yarbrough before Stone pitched 3 1/3 fantastic innings against Team Korea during the Dodgers' March 18 exhibition and was named the fifth starter while Sheehan is out.

Stone had a good spring training leading up to Korea as well — he pitched 9 1/3 innings for a 0.93 ERA — but, like Grove, he has a history of struggle in the majors. Last year, he pitched 31 innings for a 9.00 ERA. He also had a troubling outing during the Freeway Series; on Monday, he started the game and pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, including a three-run home run to Logan O'Hoppe, in a game the Dodgers would eventually go on to lose.

Also like Grove, Stone will absolutely be on a short leash, and the work he did in spring training and during the exhibition game against Korea did make him seem like the leading candidate when the Dodgers promised him the rotation spot. Still, he'll need to find his footing in the majors and hold down the fort until Sheehan (or even Walker Buehler) rejoin the squad.