Should Dodgers go with six-man rotation when Bobby Miller returns?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Dodgers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Promising mid-rotation arm Bobby Miller has been on the Dodgers' IL since April 13, after reporting discomfort and inflammation in his shoulder. His last start on April 10 against the Twins went decently; he only gave up two earned runs but was pulled after four innings, and his eventual IL stint was backdated to that outing.

The Dodgers have relied on Gavin Stone in both Miller and Emmet Sheehan's absences, and with Walker Buehler back, their rotation is finally up to five men. Before Buehler made his first start on May 6, LA turned to Ryan Yarbrough as a de facto fifth starter and stretched their bullpen thin, as multiple relievers also fell victim to injury.

However, even with Buehler back, the Dodgers seem set on giving their starters six or even seven days of rest between starts, seemingly so as not to overwork historically injury-prone Tyler Glasnow and James Paxton too much, and to accommodate Yoshinobu Yamamoto's typical one-start-per-week schedule he was used to in NPB.

Miller is nearing a rehab stint with the Dodgers' Single-A affiliate and is expected to pitch two or three outings, depending on his performance. His return to the roster could mean Stone getting a bump from the rotation, or the Dodgers could shift to a fully-fledged six-man crew.

Bobby Miller's return could be the perfect opportunity for Dodgers to shift starter strategy

When Miller is reinstated to the 26-man, it feels most likely that the Dodgers will go to a six-man and give one of their more expendable relievers the push back to the minors. It would limit the amount of bullpen days the Dodgers have been going to and would give Stone, who despite a rocky start on Tuesday has looked much more promising this year than last, a real chance to settle in and prove himself.

A potential danger in keeping six starters could be that the bullpen is constantly in flux already, whether it's because the team is dissatisfied with performance or arms are exhausted, and losing a reliever spot would undoubtedly stretch them even further, especially if the newly-recovered starters can't go deep into games.

However, Dodgers starters have improved lately and have been successfully pitching six, seven, eight innings more often than they did throughout April, so employing a six-man should have more upsides than down. Now, it's just a question of who will get the bump when Miller returns.