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With opening day just a week away, the Dodgers are gearing up for their final weekend at Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers open the regular season next Monday afternoon at home against the San Diego Padres. With Clayton Kershaw on the mound the Dodgers have a pretty good chance of winning of course. For all you sports betters out there, you can check out the Dodger’s odds of winning on opening day and all throughout opening week at SportsBetting.ag.
It looks like Hyun-jin Ryu has finally returned to form this spring, as he tries to make the Dodgers rotation for the first time since 2014. Ryu has battled shoulder and elbow problems since the end of the 2014 season. He has labrum surgery on his shoulder as well as debridement surgery on his elbow. This year Ryu has posted a 2.57 ERA with the Dodgers in camp.
He’s tossed 14 innings and struck out 12 while posting a .79 WHIP in 4 starts. Most importantly he says he’s pain free. The Dodgers have decided they will roll the dice and place him in the rotation. No matter how good he looks it’s still a gamble considering how much time he’s missed over the last two seasons. A healthy Ryu is a huge boost to the Dodger’s rotation though.
With Ryu in the rotation and Julio Urias being foolishly stashed in extended spring training the Dodgers are close to rounding out their rotation. After Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Ryu, only the fifth spot remains up for grabs. Scott Kazmir will start the season on the disabled list after the Dodgers figured out that he couldn’t retire my grandmother. That means the fifth spot will be up for grabs between Alex Wood, and walking wounded Brandon McCarthy. But what about adding a long man?
One of the Dodgers issues over the last couple of years has been the lack of a long man in the bullpen. With the constant injuries to the Dodger’s starting rotation, the bullpen has had to pitch a lot of innings in 2016. As a matter of fact the bullpen pitched more innings than ever before because the Dodger rotation tossed only 859 innings last year. That ranked them 29 out of the 30 clubs. That meant the Dodger starters averaged only a little over (5.3) five innings pitched every time out.
The Dodgers had a great bullpen. The relievers were the tops in baseball (3.35 ERA), but they also led MLB in most innings pitched. The Dodger relievers tossed 590.2 innings in 2016. That averaged out to nearly (3.71) four innings per game.
This is not a sustainable strategy forever. Sure the Dodgers did get to the NLCS and they played well. But they paid the price with injuries. If you’re starter only goes 5 innings every night and you have to use 4-5 relievers or get at least 4 innings from your bullpen every night then you are going to eventually get burned later in the season. The bullpen will get tired and by August or September most of your middle relievers will be hurt or gassed.
To help alleviate this problem the Dodgers need to use a long man. Preferably someone who can make a spot start or pitch multiple innings in middle relief. Maybe that can be Alex Wood? He’s pitched pretty well this spring. Maybe that can be Brandon McCarthy? Maybe that can be Ross Stripling or Brock Stewart?
Either way the Dodgers need someone to perform in this role. I’ll put it to a vote with you guys. Who do you think should be the Dodger’s long man? Tell me what you think and cast your vote above.