The Los Angeles Dodgers pitching depth took a bit of a hit this offseason, although manager Dave Roberts still has plenty of viable options to work with to fill out his five-man rotation.
As it currently stands, the rotation will be filled out by five veterans in Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood. That leaves Walker Buehler, Wilmer Font, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling among those serving as the team’s primary depth in case of injury.
The current five-man rotation consists of four left-handers, so Roberts faces the challenge of figuring out how to order them behind Kershaw, who is set to make his club-record eighth straight Opening Day start against the San Francisco Giants on March 29.
It appears the rotation may pretty much be set based on the order that’s been used during the current stretch of games. Roberts essentially confirmed Wood is slotted second, followed by Maeda, Hill and Ryu, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Sothern California News Group:
Rich Hill starts Saturday, Hyun-Jin Ryu Sunday. Dave Roberts encouraged reporters to read between the lines as to what that means for the rotation order. So it’ll be Kershaw-Wood-Maeda-Hill-Ryu.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) March 9, 2018
A lot can change before Opening Day, but as it currently stands, this rotation order makes the most sense. If Wood can pitch the way he did in 2017 then he is a solid No. 2 starter, even capable of posting ace-like numbers.
His pitching style is different than both Kershaw and Hill’s as he pitches more to contact than to strike hitters out. So although they pitch with the same hand, the Kershaw and Wood will give hitters a different look when pitching on back-to-back days.
The Dodgers’ Opening Series is four games, which means Ryu is currently on track to not face the Giants. But that would leave him to face the Arizona Diamondbacks on the road.