More Dodgers questions emerge as rotation loses an arm

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

There have been a couple of health-related reasons to worry about some of the Dodgers' starters this offseason. Tyler Glasnow has been fragile throughout his entire career and has only pitched up to 120 innings in a season once, last year. James Paxton's guaranteed salary was taken from $11 million down to $7 million because the team was concerned about his history of pretty severe injury.

With Yoshinobu Yamamoto a completely unknown quantity in MLB, Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan, the youngest in the rotation without histories of injury, seemed like dependable innings-eaters. Miller is expected to sit in the No. 3 spot in after an impressive rookie season in 2023, and Sheehan was tapped for the backend after faring better than either Gavin Stone or Michael Grove over 60 innings last year.

Now, Stone or Grove might have a new way in. On Saturday, Dave Roberts told the media that Sheehan would be starting the season on the IL as he dealt with shoulder soreness, which had already kept him from appearing in Cactus League games.

The fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation is officially up for grabs, but Stone and Grove aren't the only ones who will be gunning for it.

Gavin Stone, Michael Grove contenders for Dodgers' fifth rotation spot after Emmet Sheehan injury

On Monday, Roberts said that Stone and Grove would be traveling with the team for the Seoul Series, but didn't specify what capacity they'd appear in. Stone is performing exceptionally well in spring training; he's pitched 9 2/3 innings, the most of any Dodgers pitcher, and is maintaining a sub-1.00 ERA. Grove has been less fortunate — he's pitched eight innings for a 6.75 ERA.

Both are coming off of less-than-ideal 2023 seasons. Stone pitched 31 innings for a 9.00 ERA; Grove had 69 innings and a 6.13 ERA. Based on their spring showings, Stone feels like the easy frontrunner for the five spot, but Kyle Hurt (3 IP, 0.00 ERA in spring) and Ryan Yarbrough (4 IP, 2.25 ERA) are also viable candidates.

It's unclear how long Sheehan will be out, but this absolutely throws a wrench into the gears. There were concerns about the rotation before they signed Paxton relatively late in the game, and now they're back to square one. It also signals more shakeups on the way later in the season, when Sheehan, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw are healthy and will come in to complicate things a bit.