With analytics playing a pivotal role in the current landscape of Major League Baseball, many teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, have shifted away from tradition in favor of new-school ideologies.
A few trends that have gained steam in recent years include less reliance on starting pitching and more emphasis on constructing an elite bullpen.
It was previously common for starters to throw more than 100 pitches in an outing while facing the opposing lineup three times in a game. Now, that isn’t exactly the case with starting pitchers having a shorter leash than usual.
Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt expects the same to play out for his staff this season and hopes his starting pitchers can put forth efficient outings without being overworked, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I think we’re still in the mode for our starters to do ‘X’ and you hope — not 125 pitches every time, that’s probably not happening anymore. That’s not the equation anymore — but you hope they’re efficient,” said Honeycutt. “Another thing for me, I always felt the third time through [the lineup], how much did the starter have to battle through before that? A 20-plus-pitch inning in the second, now in the fourth another one, it’s tough to get through three of those. But when they’re breezing, it’s a totally different scenario. It’s a gut feel just watching the game.”
The Dodgers’ plan to preserve their starting pitching was evident last season when not a single one tossed a complete game for the first time in franchise history.
Moreover, Los Angeles’ rotation depth was on display when 11 pitchers started a game. Much of the same can be expected this season, especially when considering Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are likely to begin the year on the injured list, paving the way for Ross Stripling and Julio Urias to fill their voids for the time being.