Should We Worry About the Pitching?

I’ll get right to the point:  You always worry about pitching!  So, there is that.

However, I do not think we should be overly concerned about pitching on this 2018 version of the Dodgers.  A number of Dodger Fans are questioning the Dodgers rotation as well as the Dodger bullpen.  Some say that the Dodgers only have one pitcher who can start and go more than four or five innings.  I would suggest that statement is misleading. I think the Dodgers BY CHOICE, do not allow their pitchers to go more than 4 or 5 innings… except for Clayton.  Actually, Alex Wood had 16  starts where he went 6 or more innings and Rich Hill was deliberately held back over blister concerns.  Ryu was on his first full season back from  surgery and Maeda did have issues as a starter.

Ryu’s performance on Saturday did not inspire confidence, but I don’t think it was as bad as some might think. According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, here’s what Doc said about the outing:

“Where he’s at this year in Spring Training, where he was at the last couple of years, considerably ahead of it. A lot of good things today.”

Ryu sat in the 89-92 mph on Saturday and hit 93 in his last start, which was well above where he was at last spring training. Everyone thinks Ryu’s arm is stronger this year than last… we shall see, but there is hope.

The reason that I don’t think it is necessary to overly worry is because of (drumroll…..) DEPTH! If Ryu or another starter goes down, the Dodgers have options.  The first option is Ross Stripling… which is why he is being stretched out.  The second option is Striker Buehler who is ready for the show.  The third option is likely Julio Urias who MIGHT be available after the All-Star Break.

Then, it gets dicey, but there is no need to panic because of DEPTH.  They Dodgers can make a trade for a starter IF NECESSARY… but it may not be necessary, so why do it?  Of course, they could always wait until after the draft this year and then give Alex Cobb a $48 million 4 year deal, which is better than he’s going to get anywhere else. If the Dodgers are considering (1) cutting salary so that they might be able to add another starter; and (2) moving Yasmani Grandal in his walk year, then right about now (due to how well he is hitting) might be a good time to try… I’m just sayin’….

When Tom Koehler went down, the bullpen changed somewhat.  I think some thought he would be the 8th inning guy, but that was yet to be determined.  However, it is looking more and more like he may be back sooner than later.  No one has a clue when that will be.

There are a bunch of others fighting for spots in the pen- we all know their names, but if enough of them don’t cut it, it’s time to use the “DEPTH” Card… and FAZ will if it is necessary.  That’s why I am not overly worried.  Let’s see what happens…

  • Here’s something that I thought was interesting as reported by Ken Gurnick:  “Kershaw chose to pitch at home, even though it means facing a division rival. There’s a chance he will face buddy and former teammate A.J. Ellis, who is fighting for a Padres roster spot. Ellis joked he’s been working with Yasiel Puig on bat flips for when he takes Kershaw deep. Kershaw responded by suggesting Ellis make the team before he talks smack.”  OUCH!  Clayton, that’s your old buddy!

 

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 49 Comments

  1. From the OC Register:

    Urias says he has not had a single twinge of pain during that program which has progressed to long-tossing from 120 feet this week.

    Other markers are off in the distance. Urias says he does not know when he will throw off a mound again or face hitters. He says he is just trying to stay pain-free and get comfortable throwing again.

    “Making sure you’re pain free day-to-day — that’s the most important part,” he said. “When you go eight months without doing anything then you start throwing, you immediately start feeling like there are other things coming, other stages of the rehab coming along.”

    There are only hazy projections for when Urias might be able to return to action. The original prognosis was a 12- to 14-month recovery and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sticks to the company line when he says, “We’re expecting to get Julio back at some point this summer.”

  2. IMO, there is a difference between being worried, and believing that there is room for improvement. It seems clear that the #5 starter was not open for competition. Hyun-jin Ryu was anointed the #5 and what transpired during spring training seems irrelevant. Both Stripling and Buehler have pitched better than Ryu this spring, and neither seem to be considered at this time. Stewart has not pitched well and he is now settling into the OKC rotation. Stripling was labeled a reliever early on as one of the five relief role locks. I would have no problem if the position was not open for competition, but it was stated prior to spring training that the #5 starting pitcher was yet to be decided.
    .
    I am not worried about the depth of pitching. I have stated on multiple occasions that FAZ is the master at building a team with enough depth to get to the playoffs. Whether they have the correct pieces to get THROUGH the playoffs has been the question. They did last year, it just did not work out. Gerrit Cole has quietly had a fantastic spring thus far. In 4 starts he has 12.2 IP, allowed 10 hits, 2 runs, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts, for a 1.42 ERA and 1.184 WHIP. He no longer has to pitch with the pressure of being the Ace of the Pirates. How great do the Astros feel when Cole goes against their opponents’ #3 or #4? The Astros were not worried about their pitching, but they knew they could improve, and did. There is no question the Dodgers could have made a better offer for Cole, but chose not to, and I am in no way criticizing that decision. If FAZ was unquestionably supportive of Ryu as the #5, then say there is no competition for the #5 coming into spring. They have more than earned the right not to be second guessed on this.
    .
    I feel the same about the supposed open competition for the bullpen. JT Chargois and Pat Venditte have both pitched well enough to have earned a spot in the bullpen. They both have a WHIP of less than 1.000. As does Justin De Fratus. IMO, Jansen, as the best closer in MLB, and Alexander and Cingrani, as the only viable LHRP, should be the only locks. Stripling has pitched well enough to be the multiple innings long man as well as one who can come in to pitch in high leverage situations. But how does Pedro Baez and his 2.357 WHIP earn a spot over Chargois, Venditte, or even De Fratus? I have no problem with Josh Fields getting a spot, especially if he continues to gets innings over the next 9 days. Baez can be part of that depth at OKC, along with De Fratus, Garcia, Liberatore, Moran, Copping, Paredes, Broussard, Jankowski….The relievers that have earned their spots are Jansen, Alexander, Cingrani, Stripling, Chargois, Venditte, and Fields. If an 8th is needed, I would take De Fratus over Baez and let Baez earn his spot back while pitching at OKC.
    .
    Worried? No. Is their room for improvement? Yes.

    1. There is always room for improvement, but there are about $7 million reasons why Ryu get first shot. I have thought that in his second full year back and his walk year that he could do somethings special. Some of that (not all) is wishful thinking, but I think he gets the chance. In all likelyhood someone will go down and Striker and/or Ross will get a shot. I still do not see Brock Stewart as a starter.

    2. Hey AC,

      I saw your response on those four youngsters. Do you have any perspective on their future potential or specific skill sets.

      I appreciate the time you took in compiling that response, but it was mostly biographical stuff that I already read on FG and Baseball Reference.

      Sickels’ comment section called the four out as sleepers, but I can get no analysis of their pitches, their future values, anything. Just stats and background.

  3. if we really do have a surplus of outfielders, maybe swapping one for rotation depth would be wise. if possible. i’m personally glad we stopped building that endless “colletti bridge” to the future, but the next wave of pitching shouldn’t be rushed. do we have enough between now and then? we’ll find out. i’d rather see buehler as next man up then a john lackey signing or something. the kids will lead us to our next glory.

  4. I always worry about the rotation but I guess instead of worrying you should have a plan in place to take care of any issues that come up.
    Last year the starting rotation pitched in 126 games with a combined 64- 30 won-lost record. Kershaw had 27 starts, Wood, Hill, and Maeda had 25 starts each, with Ryu starting 24. In the 36 games started by other pitchers, this is the breakdown.
    McCarthy started 16 games, going 6-4 and pitched 92.2 innings. Darvish started 9 games. going 4-3 and pitched 49.2 innings. Urias started 5 games, going 0-2 and pitched 23.1 innings. Stewart started 4 games, going 0-0 and pitched 13.2 innings. Stripling started 2 games, going 0-0 and pitched 5 innings. That’s 10 wins, 9 loses, and 184.1 innings the Dodgers have to plan to equal or to improve on.
    If the starting rotation can come close to last years starts then it might come down to Buehler and how many starts and innings he can give the team, plus Stewart and or Stripling. Urias might be ready to help late in the season but I would rather see him not rush and be 100% ready for next year.

    1. I don’t really consider maeda a starter anymore after the postseason. to me he feels like a “five and dive”-type starter and we have our share of those. I guess my concern is, in the absence of any real horse besides Kershaw, how are we going to fill in all those 6-8 innings that will come due almost every single game? our pen needs to be able to go multiple innings and multiple days at a time with constant rotating from AAA to keep them fresh. losing Koehler kinda sucks in this respect. we need someone to step up [font hasn’t so far]. here’s a bold prediction: stripling will end up throwing 150+ innings just out of sheer necessity.

  5. I agree with you guys on the bull pen. Chargois and Vinditte should be on the team. Baez should go to AAA to learn a second pitch. Something he should of done this winter. What will happen is that Baez will be on the team and Vinditte will go to AAA. Doc and management really do go with veterans first. They are given a chance to prove they belong or play themselves off the team.

    I believe Ryu is going to have a god year. This is his second year after shoulder surgery. I may be more worried about Hill than Ryu.

    I feel the same way on Joc. I think Toles should be on the team. However, I can see them keeping Joc and sending Toles down. I think there is some frustration with young players who feel they are playing better than some players the Dodgers keep. ST is just that to Doc and management. The veterans will get their opportunity first.

    1. let baez throw 100 innings blowing away bad hitters in low leverage situations. then make sure he is nowhere near a postseason roster spot come September.

    2. Idahoal

      I agree with you about Toles and Joc, but I think if any of the outfielders get hurt, Toles should be the first one called up, and once he is up in the majors, he should fill in, and be the regular outfielder, not Joc.

      Not only will Toles be sharper then Joc, because he will be playing everyday, and getting consistent at bats, and he has shown he is willing to work hard, to get better.

      Joc doesn’t deserve to make the team, but I rather see both Toles and Verdugo playing everyday, and getting consistent at bats, so they will both be sharp, and ready to fill in.

      After last year, you would think Joc would have came to spring training with his swing down, ready to hit, and compete.

      But it is the same thing with Joc every year, because he never seems to have a swing down, and he never seems to be ready, to hit.

      And you have to wonder with Joc, because our other young players have hit better then Joc, not just Toles, and Verdugo.

      I agree about Báez, it seems like the same thing every year, with Báez too.

      With Báez, you just never know what will happen, when he comes into a game.

      He might get hitters out, one, two, three, or the inning might go on forever, and he will only want to throw his fastball, on every pitch, to try to get out of the inning.

      He hasn’t stepped up either, but he will also be on the team.

      But it does get old every year, especially when you see other players and pitchers, competing their hearts out, in spring training, and with every little chance, they get.

      I am not worried about Ryu, but Vegas was right to mention Ryu’s problems pitching in Colorado, Arizona.

      But Maeda has had problems pitching in Arizona, and so has Hill, and they have never made Hill pitch in Colorado, so Hill is no different then Ryu, when it comes to pitching in Arizona, and Colorado.

  6. Kershaw – 203 Innings
    Wood – 181 Innings
    Maeda – 156 Innings
    Hill – 169 Innings
    Ryu – 173 Innings
    Stripling – 102 Innings

  7. Up to now players seem to have played every other day. Does anybody know what they do when they are not in the lineup. Prospects come into the game after the players that started that day get 3 at bats but the advanced players haven’t seen game action when they haven’t started.
    .
    Might Taylor and Hernandez spend their off days working in the infield.? Might Pederson spend his time in the batting cages?

    1. The players work hard in their off days – they just don’t play at game speed.

      Insofar as working on hitting. I doubt you could spend an hour hittin g in a 4 hour period. It is exhausting… and fatiguing.

  8. The next 10 days are important to players like Baez and Pederson.
    .
    I was pleased to hear the Dodgers might go with 7 relievers instead of 8.
    .
    Peter has regressed to norm but he made an impression.
    .
    My prediction is that both Toles and Pederson are o the 25 to start the season.

  9. The loss of so-called pitching depth is mostly an illusion. How many innings did McCarthy and Kazmir pitch in the past 2 seasons?
    2017 – McCarthy – 16 starts, 92 innings
    Kazmir – 0 starts, 0 innings
    2016 – McCarthy – 9 starts, 40 innings
    Kazmir – 26 starts, 136 innings
    Neither of these guys are reliable. While there is no doubt that the Dodgers have multiple starting pitchers who will spend time on the DL this year, the Braintrust has stopped signing the walking wounded to pitch and has opted instead to use the youngsters for pitching depth. I have no problem with this, except:
    * It doesn’t make any sense to say that Stripling is going to be a reliever who pitches an inning or 2 at a time but will be expected to work as a starter as needed. They either need to stretch him out as a starter or not.
    * Will Font still be available if he is needed? He’s not having a stellar spring but he’s not likely to make the team out of Spring training and will likely be claimed if he’s sent down since he’s out of options.
    * It doesn’t look like Stewart is really destined to be a starter.
    * Is Buehler ready?
    * Will Urias ever pitch again?

    I expect the Dodgers will make a deadline deal for a starter again this July.

    1. after the yu darvish experience, I will never root for acquiring a starter at the deadline again. I was thrilled with that deal and thought he was the key to the whole postseason. welp

  10. Gammons on the NL West on (in?) the Athletic. It’s a pay model, so I won’t post much of it, but:

    1. He writes the WS hinged on Kenley’s long game 2 stint and the Gonzalez HR.
    2. Sabean is amazed with the Dodgers recent dominance over the division.
    3. Tells people not to snicker at Kemp with an anecdote.
    4. Says “There are right-handed bullpen questions to be answered, but Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi love compiling depth. They will try to open the season with at least 10 bullpen options in Majors and Minors….

  11. I think I agree with #1. I was very upset/surprised/nervous when we yanked hill after 4 innings pitched in that game. I was hopeful but feeling like we might’ve made an unnecessary mistake.

    1. I seldom second guess but in that case, I was livid that they took him out. Hill had that!

      1. The only reason Hill was taken out, was because a run scored.

        And that actually should have been an unearned run, and if you ask Chase, he will say the same thing.

        1. the key to game 2 , to me, was that critical run we left on base in like the 7th inning. Score was 3-1, and we had a guy on 2nd. We NEEDED to get him in, and I kept yelling at the tv that we need t get that guy in.

          Bellinger was on 2nd with nobody out. Puig grounded out, Belly to 3. But then Joc struck out. Then Barnes struck out. We needed that run. Oh well.

          1. If Kenley executed the called pitch in game 2 the Dodgers win in 5 or 6. They can use the McCarthy, Fields, and Stripling game 3 and not have the bullpen gassed in Game 5. There are a lot of If moments in the series but that was the biggest.

    2. Dionysis

      When I think of game two, I think of some critical things that could have changed that game, but why was McCarthy even on the World Series roster, to give this game, easily away?

      That is just bad karma, because he didn’t deserve to be on, the World Series roster!

  12. On Clayton Kershaw’s 30th Birthday, here’s a look back at the 20 year-old Clayton Kershaw and the 8 year-old Stephen Timmons… and yes, he still has the ball!
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    1. This is ridiculous Mark, I remember when you posted this and it was CURRENT, unbelievable

      1. Now, it’s another Sport, another Stadium (Lucas Oil) and he’s the one with the flag (#6):
        Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  13. Ross Stripling signed a 1 year / $550,000 contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including $550,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $550,000. In 2018. He is 28 and a free agent in 2023. He has synced with Dodger players as he once shared a house with Seager, Thompson, Pederson, and Wood. He had one of the marriages this off-season that was attended by teammates. His time is now.
    .
    Stewart is 26 and doesn’t have a contract. He needs to improve on a third pitch and if he can, he will be second up to the rotation after Stripling. Financially, getting on the 25, even as a reliever, is important to him. I have always liked him and appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of him being late to pitching. He is an ex-shortstop and has low miles on his arm and less time to develop that third pitch.
    .
    Buehler and White are solid second half of season pitchers.
    .
    Shifting Maeda to the bullpen probably solves any problem the Dodgers might have for an 8th inning setup pitcher later in the season.
    .
    I am comfortable with the pitching depth.

    1. good points but I think that might be a bit aggressive on white’s timetable. my way of thinking has us being happy if one of white/Santana/alvarez is able to throw any meaningful innings at all during 2018. buehler is the one who we are truly counting on; urias i’m sure we’d publicly say we’re not expecting anything but privately hoping he can contribute too.

  14. Many good points. I need to see two pitchers in other teams’ uniforms this year: Ross Stripling and ESPECIALLY Pedro “El Gasolino” Baez. Both have had ample opportunity to improve and to show what pitchers they can be. Neither is young enough anymore to hope their potential pans out. They are what they are going to be, especially Baez.

    I can live with Stripling strictly as a long reliever and emergency starter, but if he ends up on the roster, please oh please stop using him in late inning pressure situations!! I know he’s cheap, but he has shown time and again where his strengths lie, and those strengths don’t include late-inning short relief. Give his roster spot to Walker Bueller! I’d also like to see what their ambidextrous pitcher, Pat Venditte, can do, although I admit I just think it’d be cool to watch a switch-pitcher for awhile strictly for the novelty of it.

    As for Baez, the Dodgers keep thinking he will grow into something other than who he has shown himself to be. They are enamored with the raw ability in his arm. However, he is now 29 years old. He ain’t changing. Sure, he throws hard and has good movement on his fastball, but he throws nothing else well and has shown with frightening regularity that he will groove a pitch right down the middle of the plate at exactly the wrong time. Baez often looks really good through July, but has shown time and time again to melt down under the heat of a pennant race! While the following still have good trade value, package Baez along with Joc Pederson (too many holes in his swing–will always struggle with consistency) and maybe Yasmani Grandal (last year of contract on a club with a ton of catching depth) in a trade for a dominating 8th-inning closer-caliber reliever and more pitching depth. As of yet, I see no righty currently on the club who can replace Morrow as the set-up guy. Address this need please, and NOT with Bye-bye Baez!

  15. Mark, save travels. I will be in Cape Haitian and Romeo 2nd week of April. I guess I won’t need to bring as much bottled water as I had planned on.
    Thanks for your good work down there.

  16. This is Ross Stripling’s 3rd year in the Bigs.

    Year 1: 1.26 WHIP
    Year 2: 1.18 WHIP

    Now if he can improve this year, we might have something. He also improved his ERA in his second year. I think he will get better, but he’s not our 8th inning guy.. at least not yet!

    El Gasolino? Can’t argue…

      1. No, and it didn’t look good. When he was rolling around in pain, I started thinking “ok, this means Forsythe goes to 3b, and Kike starts at 2b on opening day”.
        I think I made reference to this in a previous post, about how injuries could/would happen, and that our depth/talent would wind up taking care of itself.

  17. I wonder what this would do for the lineup. Does Puig move to 3rd between Seager and Belly? Do you lead Toles off at times and have CT3 bat 3rd?

  18. The existence or absence of pain does not correlate to a broken bone. Now we wait and see what the x-rays or MRI says about Turner. Even Ray Charles can see it hurt a lot.

  19. Was that really Pedro Baez? He was ready to pitch when he got the ball back. Wow! This is different…

  20. JT wrist is broken. Let’s see how long it takes for him to return, but give it 8-10 weeks at least.

    1. Bobby

      The Dodgers need to go after other teams more, for hitting JT.

      Because he is constantly getting hit, and that might make other teams, think more before going inside on JT.

      And even if a pitcher makes a mistake!

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