Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Though Ryu progresses, Dodgers likely to boost starting rotation

Joc Pederson, Hyun-jin Ryu and Justin Turner at Adrian Gonzalez's Bat4Hope Softball Game on November 7 at Dodger Stadium.

Joc Pederson, Hyun-jin Ryu and Justin Turner at Adrian Gonzalez’s Bat4Hope Softball Game on November 7 at Dodger Stadium.

By Jon Weisman

It’s true that as of now, it’s uncertain who will fill out the Dodger starting rotation when the 2016 season begins April 4. Behind established veterans Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood — all lefties — the next healthy pitchers in line are Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Joe Wieland, Zach Lee and Ian Thomas, as well as newly acquired Frankie Montas.

Then there are those who haven’t even made their big-league debuts, such as Jose De Leon, Jharel Cotton, Ross Stripling and 19-year-old Julio Urias. But any of those, along with any barely experienced veterans, would have to make quite an all-around impression by April to begin the season in the Majors.

“It’s possible, in that I don’t like to rule anything out,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said earlier this week, “but I prefer to let (rookies) get past the Opening Day bell (and) go get their legs under them in Triple-A, and the guys that are throwing the best, give them an opportunity if it arises.

“That being said, there are certain guys that might impress enough in Spring Training,” Friedman added. “It’s just important we’re doing it for the right reasons, but not just a guy throwing a few good games in the Cactus League.”

One lovely piece to strengthen the rotation would be Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is recovering from labrum surgery. Ken Gurnick of on Friday that he expects to be ready for Spring Training and a member of the opening-week quintet.

Ryu is “playing catch up to 120 feet, restricted only by athletic trainers who want Ryu ready in February, not December,” wrote Gurnick, who spoke to Ryu at the Dodgers’ annual Children’s Holiday Party.

Hyun-Jin Ryu meets schoolchildren at the Children's Holiday Party hosted Friday by the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation at Dodger Stadium. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Hyun-Jin Ryu meets schoolchildren at the Children’s Holiday Party hosted Friday by the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation at Dodger Stadium.

“Other than throwing off a mound and going all out, I pretty much can do everything I want to do,” Ryu said. “I’m on a great program and everything is going great. No discomfort, absolutely nothing.”

“I feel so good, I feel I could do it stronger, but I trust the trainers and medical staff with what they tell me to do. I’m sure in time, I will get back on the mound.”

Even if they could count on Ryu, it’s doubtful the Dodgers are done making moves for their rotation. In particular, because Ryu is also a southpaw, the Dodgers are likely to be eyeing a seasoned right-hander. With 161 2/3 Major League innings, Bolsinger is the most experienced righty starter in the organization, aside from injured Brandon McCarthy, who is would figure to return from Tommy John surgery in the summer.

Unlike 2015, when they didn’t need a fifth starter until April 14, the Dodgers play six games before their first off day next year, and will need a fifth starter as early as April 8 at San Francisco. (That’s a night before, in all likelihood, Clayton Kershaw pitches against Madison Bumgarner in their second starts of the 2016 season.)


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  1. Anderson and Wood were not the answers last year. Why should it be any better in 29016. We were hurting before the loss of Greinke and nothing has truly been done yet to improve on last year-not in pitching or anywhere else. Maybe a full season of Segar will be an improvement but will that be enough to offset a potential degradation at second base? Gonzalez always starts like an MVP champ and fades in the end more like a chump. Ethier was their most consistent last year and I’m afraid they’ll package him in some sort of loser deal before the start of the season

  2. oldbrooklynfan

    To me, After Kershaw, the starting rotation doesn’t look too good and we don’t know what to expect from Ryu. I’m hoping a move will be made for a pitcher that can come close to Greinke, before spring training.

  3. the dodgers are not a championship team right now. they need a no. 2 starter close to Greinke, another good right hander in the bullpenand some r.b.i. men in the lineup besides Gonzalez, the outfield is full of questions, Peterson, maybe, who is in left that s a real starter? and maybe we have a right fielder, who’s on second that can hit higher then 202. we’re full of maybes!! worst dodger team in long time. thanks FO by Dodger fan since 1953

    • Growing up with Earl Weaver and the O’s, I guess that I am not so wedded to the notion of “real” starters among position players. Sure, there are maybe’s, but in both leftfield and second base there are platoon options. Ethier hit OPS+ 148 against righties and SVS, despite a down year for him, hit 121 against lefties, as well as leading in the team in dWAR. Chase did manage to at least be almost average as a hitter against righties at 96 and provided dWAR of 0.7 in only 34 games, and Kike hit lefties to the tune of OPS+ 234.

  4. Reality of Dodger situation is pretty stark right now. Pitching-wise -one premier LHer and two other mediocre LHed starters (Anderson/Wood) plus another LHer coming back from missing all of last year (Ryu) plus a premier LHed prospect (Urias) then a bunch of doubtfuls as far as RHed pitchers (Bolsinger, Montas, McCarthy at midseason, maybe DeLeon midseason). All major FA starting RHers are gone now – Greinke, Zimmerman, Cueto, Samardzija, even Iwakuma. Maybe the FO pulls off a trade but what minor league silver bullets to use for that ?
    Offense was 9th in OPS during the second half of last season and ineffective during the NLDS. As it stands now, a pair of 34 yr old grossly overpaid and untradeable OFers (Crawford/Either), a 34 year old 1bman in clear decline, a 37 year old 2bman who looked washed up this year, a 3bman who was a career utility guy until a year ago coming off knee surgery, a Catcher coming off surgery, a young CFer who fadely badly in 2nd half, a SS with less than 150 major league PA’s.
    All teams have their holes and question marks. But championship calibre teams do not have the sheer volume of them like the Dodgers do right now.

    • Roger, you can’t describe the Dodger situation any better than that !!
      Apparently Zaidi trying to roll the dice with “Moneyball” approach in LA

    • Good rant. But calling CC and Dre overpaid and untradable doesn’t really speak to the issue. Dre had one of his best seasons last year (and I think he earned his salary) and when paired with SVS in left it should be a position of strength. AGon may be in decline but should be capable of at least OPS+ 120 next year (after three years at around 130). Chase was still able to hit righties at an average rate (and provide dWAR of 0.7 in only 34 games) and would be paired Kike, who hit lefties to the tune of OPS+ 234 last year. Discounting players because they are coming off surgery is painting with a broad brush and as is painting a fellow as a career utility guy after he has provide the Dodgers with WAR 8.0 over the past two seasons. The jury is out on Joc, but is there something about Seager that is a concern?

      • thanks Rodger, anyway you slice it, Dodgers are full of holes right now to be champion team, unless things change we’re third in our division. Diamondbacks added, Giants did same and we lost to much at this time . how can fo say we’re championship caliber? fan since 1953

  5. When exactly are the Dodgers going to make a move? Looks like Leake is going to SLN. Ain’t no way they should give up everything Miami is asking for Jose Fernandez. So that leaves us with what – Scott Kazmir?

  6. Let’s see:the “genius” FO lost Grienke to the D’backs & Giants, didn’t do diligence the Red Sox & lost Chapman, bungled the signing of Iwakuma, fumbled on Cueto, got out bid for every FA pitcher, have a so so lineup, spend fortunes on iffy foreign talent, have little TV in L.A. in Vin Scully’s last year…..fiddled while the Giants got right on fixing their rotation…..and now we’re supposed to believe our Dodgers will be “competitive”…? Where’s the get it done leadership? We have injured or injury prone pitchers, told we’ll go big in 2018..? Maybe the “genius” FO can’t relate to regular players & agents, maybe for all Colletti’s faults people trusted him…..leave moneyball to small markets, this is L.A…..Jim Buss is finding that out…OK, I’ll try to hang in there but this Dodger fan from the L.A. beginning at the Coliseum is rapidly losing faith. And I live in the Bay Area & have to listen to all the phony kumbaya Giants BS…!

    • a-men, losing faith rapidly, not much more to say. thanks Lew May, your right on, fan since 1953, p.s. gibson and hersh only legit stars in 88

  7. Interesting points, Mark. My concern is the reliance on players who don’t look particularly reliable or predictable at this stage. Seager looked great in his 100 PA’s and he’ll have a great career but the 783 OPS he put in AAA suggests he may come back to earth some in 2016. Just as Joc did in the 2nd half last year. Who knows what Puig will do – going from 159 OPS + in his rookie ear to 109 this year. Either came back nicely but his 710 OPS against RHers in 2014 would not be helpful even in a platoon situation. Nor would Utley’s 655 OPS v. RHers this year. I lack faith in Kiki’s hitting in general (722 career in minors) and think his 2015 lefty mashing is an anamoly since dering that he didn’t hit LHers that well in 2014 either in the majors or AAA. Is Yasmani recovered from his injury which made him dreadful in the second half ? What effect will knee surgery have on Turner, who may have been due for a reversion even before the surgery ? We’re talking a guy with a 684 major league OPS pre-LA and 770 minor league career. Not sure that the 876 guy we’ve seen in LA is the real deal.
    As to pitching – Clayton and Kenley are the only sure things. No RHed starter of any note and no additions of any substance to a bullpen that was 11th in NL reliever ERA this year.
    I see precious little to put in the bank for 2016 and bundles of wishes and hopes, many of which may be unrealistic. We have to hope that Turner and Kiki are for real, that Ethier will be like he was in 2015 not 2014, that Puig is like he was in 2014-2013 not 2015, ditto Utley, and pray that Grandal is healthy. And that the league didn’t discover Wood and Anderson’s weaknesses as their mid 4.00’s second half ERA’s might suggest. If the wishes and hopes all come true, sure the Dodgers could be competitive again. But in this pathetic offseason, the chance to become a more solid team and to shore up weaknesses and question marks has been completely bypassed. This could easily be a .500 team at best.

    • As you say, all teams have question marks, but there are degrees of uncertainty and to go through the line up questioning this and that and then saying that the sheer volume of questions makes the team easily a .500 team seems a bit much to me. Grandal did not have to have labrum surgery as some had feared, so it’s not like a Matty situation. Justin’s surgery was to remove loose bodies and was not structural in nature. To say that he might have some regression is fair, but at this point he has almost as many plate appearances as a Dodger (OPS+ 148) as he had as a utility player with the Mets. Kike has small sample size issues, so yeah obviously won’t hit lefties as he did in 2015, but his OPS+ of 65 against righties is probably just as much an anomaly. Seager won’t sustain his September pace, but offense likely to be significantly better than Rollins. Where I see the more difficult questions are with the pitching. I actually think that the core of the pen is good, but as with most pens you never know and hopefully they are better able to shore up the back end than they were last year. Starting pitching? Meh. I am not optimistic on Ryu and believe as you do that they need to fix this over the next couple of months.

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