So we’re getting 60 games this season. That’s the schedule MLB has decided on since the players and owners were unable to come to an agreement. Every club will play a couple of exhibition games before the season will begin on July 23. The teams will play at their home ball parks but without fans in the stand and the schedule will consist of 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games against the other geographic division in order to limit travel. The season will open with 30-man rosters, 60-man player pools and there will be no minor league season.
The whole thing is complicated due to the ever changing and dangerous Coronavirus pandemic. Hoards of players and staff have already tested positive and are not able to start the season due to quarantine protocols. MLB is testing players and staff, but there are some testing delays. The situation is not fluid and changing by the day. I have no idea if MLB will be able to get an entire season in with cases spiking all over the country. There are way too many uncertainties. One huge uncertainty is going to be the Dodger’s pitching staff.
There have been several players who have already opted out, including Dodger’s starter David Price. The Dodgers acquired him from the Red Sox this past offseason in the Mookie Betts trade. Unfortunately he won’t be toeing the rubber this season. He has small children at home and he understandably does not want to put them at risk.
With Price opting out, and Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, and Hyun-jin Ryu no longer with the team, it means the Dodger’s pitching will once again be razor thin. To make things even more dire for the club, several other pitching staff veterans have yet to arrive at camp. Pedro Baez, Kenley Jansen, Scott Alexander are still MIA. All of them have disappeared.
With Price sitting out the season the Dodgers have decided to replace him in the rotation with capable Ross Stripling. Chicken Strip is a fine pitcher, but the rotation has as many question marks now as the bullpen. Who makes out the rest of the rotation?
We know Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will front the rotation along with Stripling, but the last two spots are undecided. The Dodgers are going to have to rely upon rookies, utility pitchers and injury riddled castoffs. Once again Andrew Friedman has not solidified a reliable pitching staff. Dustin May, and Julio Urias are probables to fill out the last two rotation spots, but Urias may be needed more in the bullpen. Alex Wood is back in Dodger Blue, but he’s not the same pitcher he was back in 2017 when he notched 17 wins and an all-star appearance before being flipped to the Reds last year and battling injuries.
And what of that much maligned bullpen? Can Brusdar Graterol, the young flamethrower acquired from the Twins in exchange for Kenta Maeda step up in a full time eighth-inning role? Is Blake Treinen a possible fill-in as closer if Kenley never shows up? Can Joe Kelly actually get anyone out this year? What about Tony Gonsolin? There are too many what-ifs then certainties.
This season will be even more pitching questionable then previous years. They don’t have pitching stalwarts Maeda, Hill and Ryu are all long gone. Jansen, Baez and Alexander haven’t shown up. Price is not going to pitch in 2020 and the rest of the guys are not championship caliber. If the Dodgers have to rely on Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen to pitch the eighth and ninth innings then they may be in for a long short season.