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
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.