MLB.comnamed the Top 10 Rotations in baseball and the Cleveland Indians were listed as #1 with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. The Dodgers were listed as #2 and the Nationals were listed as #3. I am going to take issue with that for several reasons:
- The Indians are likely to trade one of those pitchers.
- AlmostNEVERdoes a team just use 5 pitchers during a sesaon.
- The Dodgers were Number #2, and the rotation did not include Julio Urias (former #1 prospect who may be as good as ever), Ross Stripling (All-Star last season) and Kenta Maeda (a pretty good starter in his own right).
Yeah, they got it wrong. The Dodgers have the NUMBER ONE ROTATION in baseball!However, they are likely to trade a couple of those pitchers… and it doesn’t mean they might not trade for a Corey Kluber if he is available and the price is right. I think that of Wood, Hill and Maeda, only one will be on the team come Spring (or maybe July – shoot, by July all three may be gone).
The reality of the situation is that this is the rotation I expect to see, come Summer:
The Dodgers currently have eight (8) starters, and it’s obviosuly not up to me, but if the season started today, here is what I would consider to be out best starting pitchers. I will discuss my opinions of each pitcher with regard to:
- Worst Case Scenerio
- Best Case Scenerio
- Most Likely Scenerio
Here we go!
Clayton Kershaw – LHP
Upside– Look at his best season. That’s his upside. He’s a generational talent. His greatest strength is his tenacity.
Downside– See last year…. minus 20%. His greatest weakness is his tenacity.
Worst Case– His back and hip flare up and he spends half the season on the DL and has a 6-8 record with a 4.26 ERA..
Best Case– Cy Young Award.
Most Likely– Pick somewhere in the middle. He will start the season opener (if healthy) because he is due that amount of respect. I do think he could re-invent himself and become a solid #2. I see a 15-7 Record with a 2.99 ERA.
Striker Buehler – RHP
Upside– Never call him “Walker.” What the hell is wrong with you? He’s “Striker,” not Walker. This is a pitcher who can win the Cy Young Award in 2019. That’s what we are talking about!
Downside– The only thing that can stop him is injury.
Worst Case– He gets injured and spends half the season on the DL.
Best Case– Cy Young Award.
Most Likely– He should start the season opener but he won’t because of respect for Clayton. I see him at 20-8 with a 2.36 ERA.
Hyun-jin Ryu – LHP
Upside– This guy can be “lights out,” and it’s not outside the realm of probablity that he can pitch 200 innings.
Downside– HIs shoulder injuries are behind him, but his body-type (think David Wells) can be subject to breakdown.
Worst Case– He spend most of the season on the DL.
Best Case– 200 IP and a 20 win season..
Most Likely– I will step out and say 180 IP with a 2.78 ERA – the win loss record might be 14-8.
Ross Stripling – RHP
Upside– I read a review of Ross Stripling’s 2018 season inTrueBlueLa.comand was extremely disappointed as to what that review was! Ross Stripling was awesome as a starter the first half of the season. In fact, he was an All-Star. There was a stretch where the only better pitcher was Jacob deGrom. He got shelled in the All-Star Game and was never the same afterward! End of story? Not at all (and that is the part they left out). Chase Utley figured out that Ross was tipping his pitches which was the reason he was unhittbale before the All-Star break and and cannon fodder after.
Downside– A useful bullpen piece.
Worst Case– He is unable to totally quit tipping pitches, is relegated to the bullpen and loses all confidence as a starter. It’s not easy to quit tipping pitches. Odds are, he was tipping them for quite some time before someone figured it out. Old habilts are hard to break, which was why he was left off the playoff roster.
Best Case– He figures out how to stop tipping pitches and return to form as one of the elite pitchers in the NL.
Most Likely– It’s likely that he starts in the bullpen and works his way back to the rotation. It’s hard to predict what will happen in his case as his newly developed pitches last year were not utilized in 2017. With his new repertoire, he has show he is a potential Ace, but I can’t see that kind of jump. I really can’t even guess what he will do.
Julio Urias – LHP
Upside– As a Rookie, Julio was dramatically better than Clayton Kershaw in his Rookie Season. At one time, he was anointed the “Ace-in-Waiting”. I would say he’s now a #2… only because he has missed time aand because Striker Buehler isTHATgood.
Downside– He never builds his arm strength back up and becomes a high-leverage reliever.
Worst Case– He has to have Tommy John Surgery (well, that’s a worst case, isn’t it?).
Best Case– He take up where he left off, builds up his arm and is again the pitcher he was destined to be.
Most Likely– He may start at AAA and build back his arm strength. I would say he will be back by May 15th, but he will have a cap, even though his shoulder is healthy (he still can throw his fastball at 97 MPH… maybe faster, next year – however, like Clayton of old, he sits around 93-95). I think he wins 10-11 games with an ERA around 3.00 before he is shut down… unless he sits out the start of the sseason. It is tough to figure out how to limit his innings. Maybe you just shut him down for three weeks after the All-Star Break and work him back in 5 or 6 weeks later…
Rich Hill – LHP
Upside– I love Rich Hill! He’s great for any lockerroom and is a guy you want to go to war with. I do not agree with Dave Roberts use of him and think he should be allowed to pitch deeper into games. Even at his age, if he is allowed to pitch 200 innings, he could win 20 games.
Downside– The blisters return… although it appears he has figured that part out.
Worst Case– The blisters and injuries limit his use.
Best Case– 20 Game Winner.
Most Likely– If he is healthy, and I think he will be, I see 14-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 150 innings…. or he is traded… most likely at the trade deadline,IFStripling and Urias are healthy.
Kenta Maeda – RHP
Upside– He has proven he is an effective starter and that he can be very good in the bullpen. He likley needs to be one place or the other, but his contract is heavily weighted towards starting and neither he, nor his agent will be happy with him moving to the pen for the 2019 season, which is why a trade makes sense.
Downside– He gets injured or can’t wrap his head around being in the bullpen.
Worst Case– His arm finally falls off. Part of the reason he signed such a friendly contract is because of arm issues not disclosed,
Best Case– He is not traded and becomes the 8th inning lockdown reliever.
Most Likely– If not traded, he will bounce between the rotation and bullpen and do about what he did last season.
Alex Wood – LHP
Upside– Before the All-Star Game in 2017, Alex Wood was as good of a pitcher as anyone, actually better. He was hitting 97-98 on the gun and his stuff was filthy. He looked like an Ace.
Downside– Swingman like he is now.
Worst Case– I think he is injured. His velocity his dropped 8 to 10 MPH but he still can pitch effectively. He may need surgery…
Best Case– He regains his velocity and is again one of the best pitchers in the NL (I don’t believe that will happen).
Most Likely– He is traded! If he stays, he will be a swingman and will not be happy… and who can blame him? He is pitching for a new contract in 2020. The problem is, other GM’s think he is injured too. The market may not be what we think.
- According to MLB.com., the Dodgers have reached out to the White Sox about Jose Abreu who had a bad season last year partially due to “testicular torsion and an infection in his thigh“. He had a “procedure” done and should be good to go in 2019. Ouch! I am sure Max Muncy will be part of that… or at least that’s what I believe to be true.
- Let’s say that happens, I am going to float another deal: The Dodgers get Mitch Hanniger and Kyle Seager. The Mariners get Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, Conner Wong, Dustin May, Matt Kemp and Edwin Rios.
- Taylor/Toles LF
- C. Seager SS
- Turner 3B
- Bellinger CF
- Abreu 1B
- Hanniger RF
- K. Seager 2B
- Barnes C