Dodgers Hesitant To Use Ryan Yarbrough As Starter Because Of Value In Bullpen

Ryan Yarbrough was the final acquisition the Los Angeles Dodgers made prior to the MLB trade deadline on August 1, and it was a move that went under the radar following the vetoed deal for Eduardo Rodriguez.

Prior to the trade, Yarbrough made seven starts and 14 overall appearances for the Kanas City Royals, posting a 4-5 record with a 4.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 29 strikeouts across 51 innings while also pitching to a 4.29 FIP, 4.81 expected ERA, 13.7% strikeout rate, 4.2% walk rate and 0.6 WAR.

The 31-year-old was a starter for the Royals at the time of the trade, but since joining the Dodgers, he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. Yarbrough has appeared in four games for L.A., throwing 12.1 innings with a 1.46 ERA and 0.41 WHIP while also picking up his first save with three innings pitched against thew Milwaukee Brewers.

With the Dodgers now in need of another starter following the injury to Tony Gonsolin, manager Dave Roberts indicated Yarbrough is an option to take a rotation spot, but the value he’s provided to the bullpen may ultimately keep him there with another option joining the starting staff.

“That’s the hesitation, and I say that as a compliment to Ryan Yarbrough in the sense of obviously acquiring him protected us against downside with something like this,” Roberts said. “But as we’ve seen, his ability to pitch a couple times a week, shorten games, save the ‘pen, has proved valuable. So you could argue that versus pitching him every fifth or sixth day.

“Right now we don’t have that decision to make. He’s available to pitch today and then at that point in time we’ll look out into next week.”

Over his six-year career, Yarbrough has spent time both starting games and in the bullpen, but he has primarily been a reliever. Of his 145 career games, 66 have been as a starting pitcher.

Yarbrough’s best years came as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, often pitching as a bulk guy following an opener. He owns a career 4.27 ERA in 643 innings.

In 63.1 innings this year, Yarbrough has pitched to a 3.69 ERA, including a 3.08 ERA as a starter (38 innings) and 4.62 as a receiver (25.1 innings). However, Yarbrough’s career ERA is lower out of the bullpen (3.89, 286.2 innings) than as a starter (4.57, 356.1 innings).

Dodgers rotation options besides Ryan Yarbrough

When discussing how to replace Gonsolin, Roberts also mentioned Ryan Pepiot and Gavin Stone, along with Yarbrough, as the potential options. Emmet Sheehan could also be in the mix, but he has been working as a receiver in Triple-A Oklahoma City, possibly preparing for a September and postseason role with the Dodgers.

Pepiot is the presumed favorite to fill in the rotation spot, but the Dodgers have some time to make a decision.

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