The Dodgers kicked off their 2020 cactus league schedule on Saturday night with a 10-4 win over the Giants in Scottsdale. Tony Gonsolin and Dennis Santana opened the game with scoreless frames and there were three home runs hit by sluggers Max Muncy, Enrique Hernandez, and Chris Taylor. You can’t ask for a better start to the spring than a convincing win over the Giants. After the win I started to think about the pitching staff.
Who’s going to be the Dodger’s fifth starter? There has been some recent chatter about the Dodger’s 2020 pitching plans. Let’s talk about what we know for sure first. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price are guaranteed to be the top three starters. If we believe what the Dodgers are stating now and throughout the winter, Julio Urias will finally have his baby kid gloves removed and allowed to be a normal everyday starting pitcher throughout the season. This is so refreshing to see (if it happens and Urias remains healthy) and I am really looking forward to seeing what Urias will bring over the course of a full season without a leash. Please let that kid pitch.
But what of the fifth spot? While it’s great that the Dodgers got Mookie Betts, they also lost a lot of pitching. Hyun-jin Ryu signed with the Blue Jays. Rich Hill is gone, signing with the Twins and Kenta Maeda will join Hill in Minnesota after being traded to the Twin cities. They did net flame throwing relief prospect Brusdar Graterol in the Maeda deal, and while he will help the bullpen, the options for the back of the rotation are a bit thin.
Roberts said Dustin May isn't being considered as a reliever out of camp. He's a starter. So he'll likely begin the season in the minors. That's not necessarily the case with Tony Gonsolin. Roberts said there's a chance Gonsolin makes the team as a reliever.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 22, 2020
If it weren’t clear already, Roberts has no problem deploying the pitching staff in a nontraditional manner. (Eye-Roll)
Those options are only thin because the Dodger’s decision makers are limiting their options. Reports are surfacing that rookie Dustin May is probably going to start the season at Oklahoma City. Tony Gonsolin is seen more as a reliever, and while he won’t start, he could break the club as a reliever. So if May and Gonsolin are not getting those starts, then who?
There are three options for the Dodgers, and I have a feeling I know which one they are going to choose. The first option for the fifth spot is Alex Wood. The southpaw is returning to the Dodgers for his second stint after an injury plagued season with the Reds. He’s looking to make a comeback but what kind of results the Dodgers will get from him is anyone’s guess.
Then there is Jimmy Nelson. The Dodgers signed the former Brewer earlier in the winter when we thought the Dodgers weren’t going to do anything. Nelson has hardly pitched over the last two seasons after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Before the injuries Nelson was a front of the rotation guy in Milwaukee. Who knows what we can expect from him, but if he impresses maybe he can grab that fifth rotation spot.
The third choice is the one I hate the most. Nobody gets the spot and the Dodgers use a combination of off-days to skip the turn when it comes up in the rotation and bullpen games during the weeks when they can’t. It’s a stupid option because if you don’t have a good bullpen then you will lose the majority of those games. The Dodgers don’t have a good bullpen so I don’t understand why they would even consider this.
Wood is probably the best choice, and I would be fine to see what Nelson has if anything. Maybe Ross Stripling can swing a couple of starts? I would be fine with that too. Just please don’t use bullpen games or openers. Use common sense this year.