All the young dudes

The 2020 Zips projections are out and as suspected the Dodgers have a bevy of talent fighting for five rotation spots. With Ryu gone the rotation isn’t ideal but it is basically the same type of rotation that they have taken into every season since Friedman became President with the difference this year is that three of the four pitchers vying for the final two rotation spots are young starters instead of the usual one or none.

It took a long time for the one-time teenage phenom Urias to finally claim a full-time rotation piece, but his time his now, and it is very possible that by the end of the year, Urias will be the best lefthander in the Dodger rotation. The Dodgers have been tied to the Indians and Mike Clevinger, but they could have their own Mike Clevinger in Dustin May. I wouldn’t be averse to trading the future of May for the now of Clevinger, but I also wouldn’t mind simply seeing what Dustin May can do as a Dodger. Ross Stripling will pitch well when asked to start. He always does, I don’t expect that to change. I don’t know what to make of Tony Gonsolin.

Sure, the Dodgers could use another rotation piece, and I expect with almost 100% certainty that another name will get added to the group vying for the final two spots, but it probably won’t be a name that gets Dodger fans excited. It might simply be Rich Hill, or it might be Rich Hill and another reclamation project. Or, somehow Clevinger is wearing Dodger Blue but that will probably happen this summer instead of this winter.

If we take a look at the 2018 projections we can see the Dodger projected rotation was going to be Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Rich Hill with Trevor Oaks, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Wilmer Font, Ross Stripling, and Brock Stewart pulling in starts.  You could understand the confusion over what Ryu would do after missing all of 2016. Ryu didn’t pitch a lot in 2018 but when he pitched, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Ross Stripling was an all-star in 2018, but according to Zips was going to be the worse possible option in 2018.  Walker Buehler became the everyday ace of the Dodgers.
The 2018 Dodger team went to the World Series and lost game 7 against a team that cheated and the rotation on Dec, 29th, 2017 was supposed to be Kershaw / Hill / Maeda / Wood with eventual help from Buehler. Ross Stripling was an afterthought just as he seems to be in 2020. How different is that from the projected 2020 rotation right now?

Also, notice the big whiffs on Trevor Oaks and Wilmer Font. Both were traded away before making any starts for the Dodgers, and both didn’t come close to being effective in 2018.

|                 2018 Zips Projections sorted by ERA-                                 |

Player IP ERA FIP ERA- 2018 IP 2018 ERA-
Clayton Kershaw 179 2.46 2.55 59 161 71
Rich Hill 115.7 3.5 3.74 84 131 96
Kenta Maeda 150.7 3.52 3.52 85 107 100
Alex Wood 144.3 3.62 3.68 87 148 95
Walker Buehler 93.7 3.84 3.8 93 136 60
Wilmer Font 126.3 3.92 3.93 95 No LAD Starts No LAD Starts
Trevor Oaks 141 4.09 4.16 99 No LAD Starts No LAD Starts
Hyun-Jin Ryu 112.7 4.15 4.24 100 82 51
Ross Stripling 89.7 4.32 4.22 104 106 88

The Zips 2020 projections for the Dodger rotation are actually optimistic. Every pitcher expected to be part of the rotation is expected to be above average except for Tony Gonsolin.

Player T Age K/9 BB/9 ERA+ ERA-
Clayton Kershaw L 32 9.5 1.7 128 78
Walker Buehler R 25 10.8 2.2 127 79
Kenta Maeda R 32 10.1 2.9 106 94
Dustin May R 22 8.2 2.3 102 98
Rich Hill L 40 10.6 2.9 116 87
Ross Stripling R 30 9 2.1 107 93
Julio Urias L 23 10.2 3.5 106 94
Mitchell White R 25 8.7 3.4 92 109
Josiah Gray R 22 7.5 2.6 84 119
Dennis Santana R 24 9.5 4.4 85 117
Tony Gonsolin R 26 8.7 4 85 118
Leo Crawford L 23 7.5 3.1 82 122
Edwin Uceta R 22 8.6 4.2 78 127

For what it is worth this is what I think. The Dodgers have plenty of arms for 2020, they have plenty of arms to make a trade now, or during the summer but I’d much rather watch one of Urias/May turn into the next Dodger paragraph or at least a “Moment in the Sun” in the updated version of Jon Weisman’s Brother in Arms. If I’m a betting man, I’d be betting on Julio Urias to be that pitcher.

One final note. Josiah Gray is going to eat these projections.





  1. Maeda is going into his Age 32 Season in 2020.
    Tony Gonsolin is going into his Age 26 Season in 2020.
    Dustin May is going into his Age 22 Season in 2020.
    Rich Hill is going into his Age 40 Season in 2020.
    Ross Stripiing is going into his Age 30 Season in 2020.


    • Yeah, I must have transposed some ages, will fix.


    • Thanks for the heads up. I mixed two spreadsheets together and must have missed aligned them.


      • Another good article here.

        My feeling is the Dodgers will begin the season with the pitchers they have on hand and then adjust at the trade deadline.
        This is how they have rolled in the past.

        Urias has his opportunity in 2020, after coming back from the shoulder injury.
        It hasn’t been that long ago that we were watching his MLB debut on TV.

        I like May, he has the stuff. If he can harness the knack to control it, watch out.
        This is something that could happen quickly.

        In 2020 I feel we will see Gray deployed in a way similar to how May and Gonsolin were in 2019.


        • Thanks, I expect you are right, but I’m not sure they are willing to go with May and Urias in the rotation. They might make one more move.


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