We’re almost two weeks away from opening day and the Dodger’s top two starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler have yet to throw a single inning in exhibition play. With opening day nearing, it’s looking more and more likely that both hurlers will start the season on the disabled list. Even if both are active, there’s not enough time for either pitcher to build enough arm strength for the start of the season.
I understand that the Dodgers had a shorter offseason than normal because of playing in the World Series for the second consecutive season and I understand that Kershaw and Buehler have pitched a few more innings than normal but you would think that the Dodgers would have gotten at least one of them prepared for the season weeks ago.
Obviously we have no idea what either of them does during the offseason but this seems to be a disturbing trend for the Dodgers in recent seasons. It seems that every year, one or two or more pivotal players or pitchers are not ready to begin the season and the Dodgers get off to a terrible start. Last season it was more because of some freak injuries, like Justin Turner breaking his wrist during spring training and then Corey Seager’s elbow snapping in late April.
But this year is no excuse. Hyun-jin Ryu a southpaw with a disturbing history of injuries will be ready to start opening day. Rich Hill, who is 38-years old and has pitched just as many postseason innings as anyone else on the Dodger staff is ready to go. Kenta Maeda is ready, Ross Stripling is ready.
Of course the Dodgers are trying to brush everything under the rug. Kershaw and Buehler both not active on the opening day roster? No problem, we’ll just use Ross Stripling and um….some other guys. There’s plenty of games, 162 exactly. After all the Dodgers only got off to a 16-26 start last season which nearly tanked their season.
For once I would like to see the Dodgers prepared and playing well in April. I would like to see their top pitchers and players all active, and ready to go on opening day. Unless they have actual injuries or real aches and pains then there is no reason they shouldn’t be raring to go. The Dodgers being “conservative” and holding guys back for weeks into exhibition season makes little sense. Giving playing time to Cameron Perkins and Daniel Castro over regulars who need the at-bats to be playing every day is annoying.
Surely the Dodgers will survive without Kershaw or Buehler for a few weeks. We keep hearing this. The Dodgers have the depth, don’t you know. They have guys that can fill in. Don’t worry, everything will be just fine. Or so they keep telling us. For once, why can’t we have one season that starts out well? Can’t we have one season that begins with everyone healthy and the Dodgers on a winning streak? It’s not anyone’s fault specifically if Kershaw and Buehler are injured or sore from as long postseason and shortened offseason, But management could have handled this better.
They also could have better prepared everyone else around them. We’re all going to find out, as evidenced by the fact that the Dodgers won the division in 2018 by a single game, that April games matter too, just as much as September games. Getting off to a quick start makes a good difference. Things don’t always have to be this hard for the Dodgers. Hopefully one day management will learn this before they start the season 12 games under .500. Here’s to hoping the Dodgers have April flowers instead of April showers.