Opening Day Pitcher???

STARTING ROTATION?– There is a lot of talk on who should be the opening day pitcher. It does not appear that Clayton is going to be ready anytime soon, and Buehler seems headed to the #5 slot in the rotation to begin the season. Mark had a “half serious” idea on using an “Opener” for the opening game. Nyet on the half serious part that thinks they should.

But if not Kershaw or Buehler, then who? I am not looking at one game, but at the start of the season. I agree with 59 that this team needs to get off to a great start. Why not start hot and run away from the Division rather than drop 10 games back and then bust your behind to catch up with Game 162, and have to play Game 163.

Looking at the start of the season, home and away, I would line up the rotation as follows:

Hill – Home – Game 1 vs. DBacks

Ryu – Home – Game 2 vs. DBacks

Maeda – Home – Game 3 vs. DBacks

Stripling – Home – Game 4 vs. DBacks

Buehler – Home – Game 5 vs. Giants

Hill – Home – Game 6 vs. Giants

Ryu – Home – Game 7 vs. Giants

Open Date

Maeda – Away – Game 8 vs. Rockies

Stripling – Away – Game 9 vs. Rockies

Buehler – Away – Game 10 vs. Rockies

Kershaw – Away – Game 11 vs. Cardinals

Hill – Away – Game 12 vs. Cardinals

Ryu – Away – Game 13 vs. Cardinals

Maeda – Away – Game 14 vs. Cardinals

That should give Kersh enough DL time to get ready for his 2019 debut in St. Louis. But it also allows Ryu to pitch his 1st two games at home, his 3rd game in a stadium he pitches well (Busch Stadium), and keeps both Hill and Ryu out of Colorado. They are slow walking Buehler (I do not know why or agree with), so let him be the 5th in the rotation or bump him for Urias. The Dodgers travel three times to Colorado, and if they can get away with not pitching Ryu (7.56 ERA) or Hill (7.18 ERA) there, so much the better. It could be set up so Ryu will get a start in St. Louis where he has pitched well: 2 games, 13.0 IP, 1 ER, 0.69 ERA, 0.692 WHIP.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUNG JULIO?– I am in agreement with Mark that neither the organization or the young pitcher gain anything by stretching him out at OKC. It has already been largely hinted that if Kersh is not ready to go, Chicken Strip will get his spot in the rotation, and not Urias. Like with Buehler, I have a tough time trying to understand the logic of holding back. I have tried, but I cannot get AF to talk to me about this. I get the sense that Mark has had the same luck.

WHAT ABOUT THE BULLPEN?To start the season I see Jansen as the closer, with Kelly and Baez as the RHRP set up and Alexander as the LHRP set up. Urias should be the longman/6th starter, Floro and Garcia as the middle relief, and Cingrani as the LOOGY. Once Kersh joins the rotation, that would push Strip to the bullpen, where I believe he would be best suited for the RHP version of Andrew Miller…any time needed for 3-6 outs. That would probably push Floro back to OKC.

One reliever I am anxious to watch at OKC will be LHRP, Donnie Hart. Like Alexander, he is a ground ball specialist with a sinker and slider, and is a sidewinder to boot. Maybe a left hand version of Kent Tekulve???? In 2016, at 25, he pitched 22 games for the O’s, 18.1 IP, 12 Ks, and 6 BBs. His WHIP was 0.982, while his ERA was a sparkling 0.49. The one run he allowed was due to a HR. So the other 17 baserunners he allowed , he got out. 2017? Not too bad. But 2018 was not good at all which is why he was cut loose by the O’s. Again, a lot like Alexander, he may get into trouble, but with his sinker, he can get ground balls. He has gotten ML batters out, he is on the 40 man, so he is going to be on the OKC to LA shuttle. Apparently Alex Slater, Director of Baseball Development & Scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, pushed very hard for Hart. Slater is one third of the three headed GM. Josh Byrnes and Brandon Gomes are the other two.

A MICHAEL GROVE SIGHTING– Grove was spotted on the back fields pitching against an Independent League team. Apparently all of the Dodgers brass was there to watch. I have not heard how he pitched, but it is evident that the Dodgers are very high on this young man. I am not going to overhype him and compare him to Walker Buehler, but Grove should be pushed as hard as Buehler was. He has a #2 feel.

This article has 70 Comments

  1. I will go on record: that if Clayton has no more setbacks (and he very well could), he will start on Opening Day.

    I agree that Michael Grove has a #2 feel. So does Julio Urias. Dustin May is trending in the direction of a #2 and Tony Gosolin may be headed down that track too. Yikes! What can we do with all the number twos? Good Problem to have.

    1. They were saying Walker was a number 2 until he broke out last year. So, I’m fine with have six or seven number twos in the minors. Never have I seen so much quality starting pitching in the same system. This is absolutely crazy.

    2. A good problem until you realize that with all of these #2’s comes a shortage of #3’s!! Who is going to pitch after our second starter in the coming years? Someone needs to ask AF about this!! 😉

  2. Good morning, I totally agree that Hill should open the season, I do not mean if he “deserves it” or not, but he has been a leader and a warrior, this could be the last time he dresses a uniform of big leagues, so it would be an honor and a kind of tribute to his work with the Dodgers …. Besides, who else could open that game?

    1. This may be Hill’s last season in a Dodger uniform (actually it almost definitely will be) but it almost definitely won’t be his last season in an MLB uniform. He has indicated he isn’t ready to retire and if he has another typical Hill season and can avoid blister problems he won’t have any trouble getting a contract from someone for 2020. That said, I have no problem with starting him in the first game. He definitely deserves it.

      1. Hill’s gonna pitch into his 40’s. He hasn’t even thrown 900 career innings with all the injuries he’s had over the years. He’s one of those curveballing lefties that seem to last forever like Jamie Moyer, David Wells, Tommy John.

  3. BTW, the next time I talk to Andrew Friedman I will ask him about the “slow walking.”

    Of course, the next time I talk to Andrew will be the First Time!

    1. Talk to him about slow striking too to stay in the spirit of it being Striker Buehler.

      I can see Kershaw opening with a 65 – 75 pitch limit.

      Buehler is now ramping up so he could be ready for the second game.

      Greinke starting against the Dodgers opening day adds a little spice to getting this season started. I like beating him.

  4. My opening day pitcher at this point would be Hill but let´s see how the next 2 weeks play out.

  5. Yesterday, Maeda had a great change up. I agree with you guys on Urias. Let him pitch in the majors. Same with Beuhler. Let him pitch. We will likely lose Hill and Ryu and not miss them. However, I like both of them, and they will make money wherever .they go.

  6. I would not say that this is definitely Rich Hill’s last year in a Dodger Uniform. He’s adaptable and a great teammate and is not going to get a long-term deal. Ryu’s most likely gone, but you never know.

    1. I really like both of those guys and would welcome them back if they pitch well this year. Someone’s gonna offer Ryu a multi-year deal, so the chances of him coming back are slimmer than his waist size. Hill, on the other hand, might just pick up a short team, team friendly deal.

    2. Both Sale and Porcello are potential free agents after this season. Hill lives in Massachusetts and has always had a soft spot in his heart for the Red Sox. The Dodgers have lots of young starters knocking on the door. I could definitely see Hill signing a one or two year deal with Boston in 2020. I think both Hill’s and Ryu’s Dodger futures may be dependent on what happens to the other one. I definitely don’t expect to see both of them back next year. One might be a possibility, but as I said, we have a lot of young guys on the cusp, not to mention Urias and Stripling who are basically already on the team but don’t have a spot in the rotation at this point.

  7. From today’s media scrum with Doc:

    • Kershaw will throw a bullpen session tomorrow
    • Buehler will throw to hitters in a few days
    • Roberts expects Kershaw/Buehler to be ready for Opening Day
    • Club expects Seager to be ready for Opening Day

    Good news as the plan starts to take focus………..

  8. Here’s My Prediction of the Opening Day Lineup:
    1. Pollock CF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Turner 3B
    4. Bellinger RF
    5. Muncy 1B
    6. Taylor 2B
    7. Verdugo LF
    8. Barnes C
    9. Kershaw P

    AND…. I just traded Joc Pederson, Brock Stewart, Dylan Floro and Edwin Uceta to Texas for Jose Leclerc! AC will be so happy!

    1. Interesting trade scenario Mark. I too am a huge Leclerc fan and that might just be too good a deal for them to reject. On the other hand they might be able to get something even better for him this July.

    2. Here is my prediction:

      1. Pederson LF
      2. Seager SS
      3. Turner 3B
      4. Bellinger RF
      5. Pollock CF
      6. Muncy 1B
      7. Hernandez 2B
      8. Barnes C
      9. Kershaw P

      Taylor and Hernandez are 50 50 to start at second.

      I didn’t make any trades.

    3. From your lips to AF and Jon Daniels ears. But I do not see a fit for Joc in Texas. He has two years before he becomes a FA and Texas is not going to contend in 2020. Plus they already have left handed bats Nomar Mazara in RF and Joey Gallo in LF (the only place they can hide him and his 40 HRs), and Willie Calhoun on the bench. The only RH bat in the OF is Delino DeShields in CF. They also have a 23 year old RHH CF in Carlos Tocci that can fill in until Leodys Tavares makes his ML debut (2020 probably) and holds down CF for the next 10 years . They are not going to block him. Floro and Stewart are team controlled until 2024. Stewart would love the opportunity to start and Floro would be a good bullpen addition. But neither are needed. Uceta is a good young lottery ticket.

      It is going to take a Will Smith + (Uceta?) to get Leclerc. Pittsburgh traded their #7 (LHSP Taylor Hearn) for Kela. Expect at least something in that range.

    4. He just signed an extension. There’s zero chance that happens. Joc will be on the roster on Opening Day.

    5. I tend to agree with lineup over Bums. Joc strikes out too much as does Taylor. Didn’t Leclerc just sign an extension with Texas??

  9. That looks like a good trade. The Dodgers will have to trade some of their depth. These kids need a chance to play. I can see Hill and Ryu having a very good season. In fact, I can see the Dodgers running away with the West division early.

  10. AC’s rotation to start the season makes sense. Hard to believe that Kershaw and Buehler will be ready by opening day and there is definitely no reason to rush them. Same with Seager. I f he needs a couple of extra weeks to get in shape, I say no problem.

    Mark, if you can get LeClerc in that deal, please get it done quickly.

      1. Mark

        I don’t know if you heard Orel make that dig about Verdugo yesterday, but maybe there is something else going on besides the obvious, if you know what I mean.

    1. I agree with your take on the trade. Not happening. But at least everyone is now thinking high high high ceiling RP. Stewart and Floro are throw ins at best. Neither one will bring anything back in return (think Rookie League lottery picks). Certainly not something Texas would be willing to give up Leclerc for. It is going to need to hurt for the Dodgers to get someone like Leclerc. Most on here would not do what it would take to get him away from Texas.

      I also agree with Singing the Blues. If Texas does want to move Leclerc, they will get more at the deadline.

      1. With the Lakers tanking and beat up at least another LA team won’t lose to another Boston team again in a championship game. Unless it is a hockey game.

        1. Since the Texas setup is either Shawn Kelly or Jesse Chavez, Floro would get serious consideration as a setup guy for the Rangers. But do you see any team that would give more than a Rookie League lottery ticket for Floro straight up?

          1. Considering they just extended LeClerc at 4/14M, my guess is they aren’t trading him for anyone. Much less that Motley crew of misfit toys. Edwin Uceta is a guy in a package to get a guy like Floro. Joc and Stewart are not going to come close to netting you one of the best closers in the game. One by one?

            Joc – Platoon outfielder who hits righties well, but I wouldn’t call it elite.
            Stewart – Maybe has a future as a long reliever, chance to be a 4 or 5.
            Floro – Good enough to be a setup guy on most teams.
            Uceta – Too young to project, has a chance to be starter. Most likely has the upside of Stewart.

            If it was that easy, Mark would be the GM. If I’m Texas, I would be asking for Verdugo, Downs, White and Gray. After all, the Dodgers got 2 of these guys for 1 year of Puig.

            No one is giving up 4 years of one of the best closers in the game for Joc, a guy they can pick up on the waiver wire, a solid (maybe really good) setup guy with less control and a prospect pitcher that probably has a 50/50 chance of being a major leaguer.

          2. Just like Mark’s proposal was not realistic (none of ours are), Verdugo, Downs, White and Gray are way too much. The Rangers traded Keone Kela, also one of the best closers/pitchers in MLB and received 24 year old LHSP Taylor Hearn in return. Hearn is now #11 in the Rangers system, and has reached AA. Comps would be Mitchell White, with Dennis Santana being an upgrade. The Rangers have no catching after Kiner/Falefa, Will Smith would be considered.

            I have been on the Leclerc bandwagon since last May.

            But I agree, Leclerc is not getting traded, and his new contract will get more in return which is one reason why they gave it. Somebody would pay large to get him at the trade deadline, and it will not be the Dodgers.

  11. AC

    I read that thread that you posted here yesterday, and I always love to see people who serve others, as a higher good.

    Although this particular baseball player doesn’t make that much money, he has access to people that do have, and make a lot of money, so they can find the means.

    And ultimately this baseball player and his wife, will be rewarded ten fold, just in the service they are providing to others, as you already know.

    And their rewards will far exceed money, when it comes to happiness.

    But they definitely found their calling in life.

    But as terrible as it is in other countries, it is amazing we have this happening in our own country too, but of course not at that same level.

    And I am sure you are familiar with a case like this right now, that was happening in this country, because of the somewhat famous person that was arrested in the sting.

    And we are seeing even more possible connections to others, in the public eye, as time goes on.

    How many teams in baseball would give Gallo a starting position?

    I know he hit 40 HRs, but he is also hitting in a hitter’s Park, as you already know.

    Talk about the ultimate all or nothing hitter.

    1. I am always looking for good human beings, and Matt Boyd and his wife, Ashley, are superb human beings. Those kids are blessed to have Matt and Ashley in their lives.

      Clayton and his wife, Ellen; JT and his wife, Kourtney, and Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi. These are all very special human beings. Those are just the ones that come to mind right away.

      Joey Gallo – No I cannot see any team giving Gallo a starting position, except maybe the O’s. He may hit 50 out of Camden.

  12. Nice to see mostly regulars in the lineup and a young Ace on the hill. This finally feels like MLB Baseball.

    1. 59

      I can’t agree more with you about that.

      And since the weather seems to be getting better in Arizona, we should be getting some better weather coming up too.

      Our young aces makes are future look bright,especially in the postseason.

        1. 59

          I hope you have a great time!

          You will have to give us a report.

          I hadn’t thought of Pup and Taco for a long time, until I saw you mention that place.

          I like most kids loved fast food, and I do on an occasion now, but I couldn’t stomach that place.

          1. I do to. I hope you have a great time. Pup and Taco are great. I hate fast food though now though.

    1. Muncy just broke out, and broke this game open, considering on how slow and well pitched this game has been today!

    2. Julio Urías day: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 0 R, 34 pitches. In six innings this spring, he has allowed one hit.

  13. I know after he got hurt, most of us probably thought only if we could have traded him, before that happened.

    But he is pitching much better then he pitched in the majors before, and he wasn’t exactly pitching poorly, by any means.

    He is looking sharp, that is for sure.

    I see Urias and Buehler being our path through the post season for years, not to mention the regular season.

  14. Not surprisingly, Josh Fields was released. The bashers will say “see they should have traded him for Harper!”

    1. No big loss but he did pitch well for the Dodgers except for the World Series blowup. He would have been the one I cut. Wonder why they didn’t take the full 10 days or maybe they did. It probably cost so much per day to keep him. The Dodgers offense has been dismal during spring training. I don’t know that it means anything. If they don’t intend to keep urias, and they are worried about his innings, why are they not slowing him like buehler? I hope we get to use urias before he is a free agent lol!

  15. Did a little research today regarding the setup of our schedule wondering if that might impact how we should structure our starting rotation early in the season in comparison to late in the season. As far as I’m concerned, I feel like it definitely does and here is my intrepid reasoning.

    From Opening Day until the start of the All-Star Break, The total number of days is 102, the Dodgers will be playing a total of 92 games which means that we will have only 10 off-days for the pitching staff to catch up on some rest during the first 15 weeks of the season. This equals 2 days off every three weeks meaning we will play 19 games every 21 days. With a five man rotation, each starter would pitch 4 games every three weeks or 20 starts each prior to the all-star break. However, by taking advantage of the seven man starting rotation depth that the Dodgers possess and rotating them between the rotation, the long reliever and the 15 day DL, each of the seven would only start 2.7 starts every three weeks or about 14 starts prior to the ASG.

    Six fewer starts means fewer innings as they build their strength and endurance early in the season, a more rested rotation as we move into the dog days of summer and an excellent opportunity to evaluate both our younger and older pitchers in regular battle. I wonder if the FO isn’t also seeing this and are slow playing Kershaw and Buehler as an early phase of such a strategy and will move these seven in and out of the rotation to keep them all fresh prior to the ASG to keep them fresh, assess the strengths and weaknesses of each moving into the latter part of the season and reduce injury possibilities due to fatigue and/or overuse.

  16. Hey MJ, I’m sorry I haven’t responded to what you replied to my comment about Corona and Naugles, I had a real busy week. But I just wanted to say that my daughters both graduated from Corona High. I grew up in Norwalk Ca, and went to John Glenn HS. I pastor a church in Corona, and love it here.

    1. MJRod

      Don’t worry about it.

      Just like I am sure that Norwalk has changed a lot since you graduated from high school, Corona has too.

      But I think Corona still has that small town feel.

      You probably know our new relief pitcher Joe Kelly, graduated from Corona high too.

      I am glad you love it there, and I bet your daughters loved it there too.

      It is a great place to grow up at, with a great mix of people.

      1. :} I grew up in Hayward, California. It was a nice small town in the bay area. Now its a shit hole. Last time my wife and had to drive through, we found ourselves in the middle of a Police Gunfight/Standoff.

  17. Saw Taylor strike out on 3 pitches, the last one out of the strike zone. Really hope we don’t get a repeat of him flailing away like last year, we really need this guy to step up and make contact, even when he makes outs. If he can cut down on those whiffs, he can have a great season.

    1. Roger, Seeing Taylor K on 3 pitches. That is a rarity and I hope you captured it on film. Super 8 preferably.

  18. Diamondbacks To Sign Adam Jones
    By Mark Polishuk | March 10, 2019 at 6:49pm CDT

    6:49PM: Jones’ contract also contains $2MM in incentives, as per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link).

    6:12PM: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a contract with veteran outfielder Adam Jones, according to former All-Star pitcher and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Dontrelle Willis (Twitter link). The one-year deal will become official once Jones passes a physical, and the agreement is a Major League contract, as per’s Andy Martino (via Twitter). The deal is worth $3MM in guaranteed money,’s Jeff Passan tweets.

    After 13 years with the Orioles, Jones’ first venture into the free agent market was a slow one, at least in terms of public reports. The Mets were known to have interest in Jones’ services, while the Orioles and Indians were involved in Jones’ market to at least some minor extent, albeit on seemingly a much more limited basis. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter) notes that Arizona had interest in Jones in a short-term contract earlier in the offseason, so it’s quite possible that other mystery teams made quiet overtures to Jones’ representatives at CAA Sports. Still, Jones had become something of a poster child for the difficulties faced by many veteran players (even a widely-respected figure like Jones) in the much quieter free agent marketplace of the last two offseasons.

    Of course, it has been a while since Jones has exhibited the form that led to five All-Star appearances in his prime. The 33-year-old has only been roughly a league-average offensive player (103 OPS+, 101 wRC+) over the last three seasons, as Jones hit .277/.315/.440 with 70 homers over 1920 plate appearances. Jones’ center field defense also steeply declined — since the start of the 2016 season, Jones was last among all qualified center fielders in UZR/150 (-11.3), and second-last in Defensive Runs Saved (-40).

    Interestingly, Jones now moves to a team that could still deploy him in center field on a semi-regular basis. With A.J. Pollock off to the Dodgers in free agency, the D’Backs were working out Ketel Marte as a potential center fielder, with the newly-signed Wilmer Flores available for the bulk of playing time at second base if Marte indeed shifted to the outfield. This could yet end up being Arizona’s preferred scenario, with Marte still seeing most of the center field action, with Jones available to play center on days when Marte is at second base. Jones could also spell left fielder David Peralta against some left-handed starters, given Peralta’s career-long struggles against southpaws. Arizona was in need of more outfield depth, as Jarrod Dyson could potentially miss Opening Day due to an oblique injury.

  19. I am also flying out on Saturday to Arizona. Our first game will be on Tuesday evening. Plan to spend some time on the back fields. This will be my first ST. Part of my bucket list.

    1. Good for you. Enjoy it. The back diamonds are the best.

      Here’s a tip. Stop by the office, right outside the facility each day and ask for a roster. They will be glad to give you one. They print a new one every day, so you can know who’s who.

    2. Idahoal

      I also hope you have a great time!

      You will also have to give us a report, especially with what is going on in the back fields.

      1. Idahoal
        Az is great this time of year. smell the grass and dirt for me. Say hi to 59 if you see him. Salute the Flag also if it pleases you. Don’t listen to Hot Dog haters, they are healthy for you, so have a couple.

  20. AC – nice column! Enjoyed reading it very much. Thank you.

    The question with Julio? My two cents use him now. Why do people think a player can’t blow an arm in the minor just as easily as in the pros? Do they throw weaker or pitches with less spin? Do they hold back in any manner or are the giving it 100% to get to The Show? Teams have a lot invested in a player these days, so perhaps the pamper them so much by the time they do let loose they have a shorter life span? Maybe I’m wrong. But I say, play him now.

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