UPDATE (March 27, 4:10 p.m.): Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Hyun-Jin Ryu will be part of the Opening Day starting rotation.
With Opening Day now just one week away, the Los Angeles Dodgers will soon construct the best 25-man roster possible in their quest to end a 29-year World Series drought.
Considering the depth that the front office has built up over the years, there will be many Major League-caliber players that begin the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
That’s a good problem to have, obviously, in the case that an injury or something unforeseeable happens. Rather than make a desperation trade, the Dodgers can fill most voids internally at any point in the season.
Indeed, the Dodgers will have some tough decisions to make over the next week. Let’s look at some key storylines and questions surrounding the club as the calendar inches closer to April.
The unanimous 2016 National League Rookie of the Year, Corey Seager, has dealt with back and oblique issues throughout the spring, but recently returned to baseball-related activities and is receiving a lion’s share of at-bats on the Minor League side of camp.
Despite the prolonged time off, the soon-to-be-23-year-old should be a full-go for Opening Day. Seager experienced something similar last spring, when a sprained left knee limited him to just 12 at-bats in Cactus League games
Left fielder Andre Ethier will be inactive for at least the next week due to a mild herniated disc in his back. His absence seemingly opens the door for other outfielders on the roster bubble, including Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke.
A pair of hard-throwing relievers in Pedro Baez and Josh Ravin will likely open up the season on the disabled list, as well. Ravin has already been shut down for a few weeks with a groin injury while Baez has yet to make an appearance this spring because of a thumb contusion.
Starting rotation openings
The first three spots in the starting rotation have been announced: Clayton Kershaw will make his seventh consecutive Opening Day start, with Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill to follow.
The final two spots remain up for grabs, with Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood making their respective cases to begin the season in Los Angeles.
Scott Kazmir was once in the picture, albeit on the periphery, but he’s set to begin the season on the disabled list. While Kazmir made his scheduled start on Sunday against the Texas Rangers, the lefty battled with hip problems earlier in the spring and saw his velocity dip into the low-80s.
McCarthy has logged 13 innings over four starts thus far and is virtually a lock for the rotation, given that he’s out of Minor League options. McCarthy pitched in a Minor League game on Sunday.
The true, and perhaps, lone, battle will be between Ryu and Wood for the fifth and final spot.
Both southpaws have enjoyed success this spring, but it will likely come down to a numbers crunch. Because Wood has Minor League options remaining and Ryu can’t be sent down without his consent, the latter might have the advantage in this scenario.
CONTINUE READING: Bench battles and non-roster invitees