Dodgers have reeled off four straight games scores > 64, can Julio Urias make it five?

The last time a Dodger starter was hammered was when Julio Urias took the mound on April 12th. Since that point, Caleb was an opener, but Ross, Clayton, Kenta, and Walker have all fired excellent games giving up just four runs in twenty-eight innings. Urias gave up five runs in five innings all by himself in his last start.

When Julio threw five dominant innings in his first start of 2019 I had hoped that he was going to take the gift of the Rich Hill injury and run with it making a case to stay in the rotation.  His second start didn’t go as well and his 3rd start was horrible.  With Kershaw back, with Rich Hill on the horizon, and with Ross Stripling pitching as well as anyone in the rotation, this could very well be the last start that Urias makes until the next Dodger hurler suffers an injury.  Given that three-fifths of the rotation has already been on the DL he may not have to wait very long.

It would help his case to pitch a good game after two bad ones.  I don’t expect middling games from Julio Urias, I have great expectations for him and he’ll be facing the hottest hitter in baseball in 2018 MVP Yelich and one of the best hitters against lefties in Lorenzo Cain.   Urias needs to cool them down if the Dodgers are going to remind them why the Dodgers were the 2018 NL Champions.

He can do it

 

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The Miraculous Monday

Monday started with a bang and ended with one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports.

It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball and some key NBA postseason games were going to take place. ESPN was broadcasting the Dodger game because of the Dodger history with Jackie Robinson so all eyes in Los Angeles were going to be on the Dodgers because the Dodger / Red matchup had about as much intrigue as any game could have in April.

You had five ex-Dodgers starting against the Dodgers including the whole outfield. You had Clayton Kershaw making his first start of 2019. You had two of the most polarizing ex-Dodgers batting back to back.

What kind of reaction would Puig get?

What kind of reaction would Kemp get?

Can the 2019 version of Clayton Kershaw help the beleaguered rotation or will he simply add wood to the rotation fire?

Who would step up in the bullpen?

Along with the Dodger game, the Clippers were playing at Oracle Arena and the only question of that game was by how much the Warriors would win. No one except a few hardy Clipper fans and NBA junkies would be paying attention.

Clayton started the game with an out but quickly gave up a hard hit single. Up stepped Puig and he got a nice ovation, not a great one. He tipped his cap and the ovation picked up but was hardly worthy of the Wild Horse. Whatever, he’s a Red now and he looked good in red. Two strikes down, Puig teed off on Clayton slugging a home run over the head of the guy who has basically replaced his bat in the lineup. Dodgers down 2 – 0 and it didn’t look good for Clayton. Velocity was around 90 – 91 but as the game continued, Clayton showed he can still be a force on the mound. Once Puig touched home, Clayton gave up just three singles the rest of the way and left the game having garnered twenty-one outs with the Dodgers tied at 2 – 2.

As Clayton left the game if you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed they were losing 94 – 63 and weren’t surprised. 

Pedro Baez had an easy eighth inning but so did Robert Stephenson and the game went to the 9th tied at 2. Kenley Jansen came in and quickly gave up a long double to Curt Casali. Jansen seemed to get his nasty going and struck out the dangerous Suarez.  It was Puig again, but this time his one-time teammate got the best of him on a deep fly to Verdugo.  Matt Kemp came up and looked hopeless on the first two wicked strikes. With the  0 – 2 Jansen was supposed to hit the target high but he missed the target and Kemp lofted a weak fly-drive toward 2nd base but there was no second baseman there and it landed giving the Reds a 3 – 2 lead.

If you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed that the one time 31 point Warrior lead had been cut to 14 by the end of the 3rd quarter. If you were a Clipper fan you nodded your head because all year they had come back from huge leads. Even if they were destined to lose, at least they had erased the embarrassing 31 point deficit. You turned back to the Dodger game.

All the runs driven in by the Reds had been driven in by Puig and Kemp. Meanwhile, AJ Pollock who was signed to replace the offense of Kemp and defense of Puig was struggling once again to drive in runs. In the first Pollock had struck out in the first with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Any contact would have driven in the tying run. He couldn’t make contact. In the 3rd he struck out again with a runner on first. In the fifth, Pollock finally made his mark by walking with the bases loaded to tie the game at two. Pollock was not needed in the 9th.

David Freese led off with a walk against Raisel Iglesias. Joc Pederson got his first walk-off hit and he did it only the way that Joc Pederson could do it. He gave a mighty swing and blasted the ball to RCF, he dropped the bat, he pointed to his teammates, he finally started to jog, but while he was jogging the CF had not given up and even though Joc thought he’d hit a no-doubter, in the end, the ball barely cleared the fence.  The Dodgers had won. Clayton had been brilliant. Puig had hit a home run. Kemp had a key single. It was about a good a game a conflicted Dodger fan could have asked for.

Meanwhile, the Clipper fan peaked at the score and holy shit, the Clippers were now tied with the Warriors. And just as you realize that the game is tied and that they had erased a 31 point lead Steph Curry hits a three-pointer. You can do nothing but shrug because you expect Steph to hit that shot. Except, for this night the script is flipped. The Warriors would miss the rest of their shots. The Clippers would not. Rookie Landsey Shamet would hit his own three-pointer. Montrezl Harrell would sink two free throws with five seconds to go and give the Clippers an insurmountable four-point lead.

The Clippers didn’t just beat the World Champion Warriors, they beat them at home, they came back from a 31 point deficit, they beat them with Pat Beverly fouled out, they beat them with two rookies playing in the backcourt.

It turned out to be the greatest comeback in Clipper History. It also turned out to be the greatest comeback in NBA postseason history.  Los Angeles may not have noticed but basketball fans did. All over the world.

 

 

Ryu looks to extend his walkless streak

Ryu has yet to walk a batter in 2019. He went 15 spring training innings without a walk and has followed that up with 13 innings to start the season without a walk.

At thirteen innings, Ryu has the fifth-best mark to in LAD history for starters to start a season without a walk. Just last year, Alex Wood started the season with three starts and seventeen innings of zero walk pitching.  He’s now playing for the Reds. In 2001 Luke Prokopec started the season with 20 innings of zero walk pitching. The next year he was pitching in Toronto and was out of baseball the year after that.  Mike Morgan has the longest streak to start a season at 23 2/3 innings. He did it in 1990 and was pitching for the Cubs by 1992.

Name              Strk Start        End Games GS   IP  H ER BB SO  ERA
Mike Morgan       1990-04-13 1990-04-24     3  3 23.2 19  3  0 12 1.14
Luke Prokopec     2001-04-06 2001-04-27     3  3 20.2 16  6  0 17 2.61
Orel Hershiser    1990-04-09 1990-04-19     3  3 19.0 20  7  0 13 3.32
Alex Wood         2018-03-30 2018-04-11     3  3 17.2 14 10  0 15 5.09
Hyun-Jin Ryu      2019-03-28 2019-04-02     2  2 13.0 10  3  0 13 2.08
Clayton Kershaw   2017-04-03 2017-04-08     2  2 13.0 10  5  0 14 3.46
Ted Lilly         2010-08-03 2010-08-08     2  2 13.0  7  4  0 11 2.77
Chan Ho Park      1997-04-05 1997-04-09     2  2 13.0  9  4  0  9 2.77
Alan Foster       1969-04-26 1969-05-03     2  2 12.0 14  5  0  1 3.75
Odalis Perez      2002-04-04 2002-04-10     2  2 11.2  8  4  0  9 3.09
Terry Adams       2001-06-05 2001-06-10     2  2 10.2 10  4  0 14 3.38
Bob Welch         1978-06-30 1978-07-08     2  2 10.2 13  5  0  6 4.22
Tim Leary         1988-04-08 1988-04-13     2  2 10.0  9  5  0  9 4.50
Clem Labine       1958-05-15 1958-05-15     1  1 10.0  7  1  0  4 0.90

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2019.

 

Dodger Minor League Update – 04/08/19

AAA – OKC

Josh Sborz is thriving in a bullpen role for AAA, as he has struck out nine of the twelve hitters he’s faced so far with only one hit and one walk.

The Dodgers made no noise when they signed veteran major league pitcher Zach McAllister to a minor league contract but he is an arm that just might help them in 2019.  He was a solid bullpen piece for the Indians in 2017 and had a tough season in 2018 thus leaving him pitching in the minors to start 2019.  We all know that bullpen seasons are erratic, and maybe the Dodgers can get him back on track to be helpful in 2019.  So far in AAA he has faced six hitters and struck out five of them.

Jake Peter, Will Smith, and Daniel Castro are hitting well for OKC while Rios and Beatty have struggled the first week.

AA – Tulsa

Omar Estevez carried over his impressive spring to lead Tulsa in hitting by going nine for seventeen, with only one strikeout.  The middle infielder is finally playing in advanced minor league ball and looks ready for it.

Keibert Ruiz and DJ Peters have yet to get untracked but they will.

Dustin May showed why he’s the top pitching prospect in the Dodger system by hurling five innings of two-hit ball with one walk and nine strikeouts.

Mitchell White had a promising first start but he only lasted three innings. Yadier Alvarez did not.

 

 

Why is anyone surprised?

With ten games in the book, the Dodgers are tied with the Brewers for the best record in the NL and everyone in baseball is like “who are these guys” as though they hadn’t been to the World Series two years in a row.

The Dodgers are 8 – 2 and if they had signed Adam Ottavino instead of Joe Kelly they might be 10 – 0.   In five of their eight wins, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 40 runs.

Even at 8 – 2 there is room for improvement. Outside of Ryu, the rotation hasn’t been great, the bullpen has blown two wins, and hasn’t looked steady with Kelly, Garcia, and Stewart all being ineffective. On the hitting side, Seager is still getting untracked, JT has yet to hit a home run, and Chris Taylor is not thriving in his utility role. A.J. Pollock hasn’t exactly set the world on fire either but he has looked great in CF, and had some key hits.

With four against the Cardinals and three against the Brewers, we shall see if the Dodgers can keep the hot start going as they take on two of the tougher teams in the NL Central.

The Dodgers called up Dennis Santana yesterday to help the bullpen but since he threw almost three innings I wonder if he’ll get sent back to AAA for a fresh arm for this week.

Looking forward, Clayton Kershaw makes a rehab start on Tuesday and should be in line to make the Sunday start against the Brewers which would put Urias back in the bullpen.  Eventually, Rich Hill will show up and move Ross into the bullpen at which point Yimi and Santana should be back in AAA with Brock Stewart.  That is when the Dodger bullpen should be formidable. Joe Kelly looked better yesterday, and should only get better.

 

The Rubber-Band man is stretching his limits

On the Sunday Night ESPN MLB telecast last night, baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza said that Cody Bellinger was like a rubber-band. It was meant as a compliment as everyone was gaga over how Cody could generate so much power with his swing and follow through.  Last night Cody did it all as he hit a home run, threw out a runner at 3rd, and showed off his elite speed.

Cody Bellinger is the talk of baseball with his major league-leading everything but it is not like we haven’t seen this Cody before. If you listen to the games, it is like he just burst upon the scene and wasn’t the guy who broke the National League single-season home run record for a rookie just eighteen months ago.

Dodger fans haven’t forgotten that when Cody burst onto the scene in 2017 he terrorized pitching and kind of did it for most of the season. We had a Cody Bellinger home run watch for a reason. 

In his first ten games ever, Cody had 41 Plate Appearances, six extra-base hits, including four home runs and put up an OPS of 1.127.

From his 41st game to this 50th game Coday had 45 Plate Appearances, 10 extra-base hits, including seven home runs and put up an OPS of 1.278.

His ten game start to 2019, 47 plate appearances 10 extra-base hits, including seven home runs, and has put up an OPS of 1.512.

So yeah, Cody Bellinger is awesome, but he’s been kind of awesome ever since he showed up even if he wasn’t the stud in 2018 that he was in 2017. 

Cody Bellinger has always checked all the boxes.

  • He’s got insane power
  • He’s got elite speed
  • He’s a gold glove caliber 1st baseman
  • He can play a solid Center Fielder
  • He can now play a solid possibly Gold Glove caliber Right Field

 

Carlos Santana turns 33 today

and has accumulated 26 bWAR since starting his career in 2010. For perspective, there is not a single Dodger position player who has accumulated at least 25 bWAR since 2010.  Only 46 MLB players have accumulated as much as 25 bWAR since 2010, and nine of them were 1st baseman.

Here is the list of Dodgers by bWAR since Carlos Santana started his career in 2010.

Player              WAR/pos From   To   Age   PA         Pos
Carlos Santana      26.0    2010 2019 24-33 5496   *32D/5H97
Justin Turner          23.3 2014 2019 29-34 2399    *5/H463D
Yasiel Puig            18.6 2013 2018 22-27 2765     *9/8H7D
Corey Seager           13.7 2015 2019 21-25 1572      *6/H5D
Adrian Gonzalez        13.3 2012 2017 30-35 2986       *3/HD
Matt Kemp              12.6 2010 2018 25-33 3201     *879/HD
Andre Ethier           12.5 2010 2017 28-35 3196    *98H/7D3
Hanley Ramirez          9.7 2012 2014 28-30 1120      *6/H5D
Yasmani Grandal         9.6 2015 2018 26-29 1883       *2/H3
Chris Taylor            8.8 2016 2019 25-28 1263     6/87H45
Cody Bellinger          8.3 2017 2019 21-23 1227    *3/87H9D
A.J. Ellis              8.1 2010 2016 29-35 1909        *2/H
Joc Pederson            7.5 2014 2019 22-27 1901      *87/H9
Juan Uribe              7.5 2011 2015 32-36 1391     *5/H463
Enrique Hernandez       6.0 2015 2019 23-27 1304 H87/46953D1
Mark Ellis              5.6 2012 2013 35-36  944       *4/H5

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2019.

Not on the list above. Casey Blake.

Imagine a Dodger team that didn’t trade Carlos Santana, that instead had him as a 1st Baseman in 2013 and never had to make the trade for Adrian Gonzalez and take on the salaries of Adrian/Crawford/Beckett and could have spent that 70 Million on something the team needed? Carlos was the equal of Adrian during the Adrian run and is still ticking while Adrian stopped being productive two years ago.

Dodgers hitters blast off in March

With at least ten plate appearances, eleven players have an OPS+ > 300 as we enter April and three of them are Los Angeles Dodgers. 2018 MVP Christian Yelich continues to destroy the NL,  but right behind him is Austin Barnes and Joc Pederson. Two guys the Dodgers tried to replace this winter with Realmuto and Harper.

Cody Bellinger is currently tied with Yelich for the NL home run and RBI lead with four and eight respectively.  In a normal week, Joc or Bellinger would be vying for NL Player of the Week, but Yelich had an even better week so I expect the reigning MVP to get the nod.

Player             OPS+ PA  Tm HR RBI BB   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS  Pos
Christian Yelich    445 18 MIL  4   8  6 .500 .667 1.583 2.250  /*9
Austin Barnes       418 10 LAD  2   3  2 .625 .700 1.375 2.075 /*2H
Joc Pederson        339 21 LAD  3   5  4 .467 .619 1.133 1.752 /*7H
Tim Beckham         327 27 SEA  3   6  4 .435 .519  .913 1.432  /*6
Asdrubal Cabrera    323 13 TEX  2   5  1 .455 .462 1.091 1.552  /*5
Kolten Wong         322 15 STL  2   4  1 .571 .600 1.071 1.671  /*4
Maikel Franco       317 12 PHI  2   7  3 .444 .583 1.111 1.694  /*5
Rhys Hoskins        316 12 PHI  1   5  5 .333 .667 1.000 1.667  /*3
Bryce Harper        303 13 PHI  2   2  4 .333 .538 1.111 1.650  /*9
Cody Bellinger      303 21 LAD  4   8  1 .500 .524 1.100 1.624 /*93
Jose Abreu          301 13 CHW  2   4  2 .364 .462  .909 1.371 /*3D

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2019.

Early season numbers are always fun, but you can’t deny the approach by Joc has simply been outstanding.

Eight Dong Day

The Dodger Twitter-verse has decided that Dodger home runs are now Dodger Dongs and who am I to argue with that? To celebrate the Dodgers decided to go where no dong has ever gone by blasting eight dongs in one game.

They hit him em to left field, they hit em to center-field, they hit em to right field, they hit em long, they hit em longer. The greatest dongfest to ever grace Dodger Stadium and they did it in on opening day against one of their best old friends.

You don’t answer questions about a season in one game but coming into the season the Dodgers had plenty of questions.

Talk about acing a test.

Can Joc Pederson hold off Alex Verdugo for the Left Field job and continue to build upon his solid 2018 season?

Joc led off the game with a ball off the fence in LF. He would later hit a home run to center-field, and another to right field. He came very close to the coveted Home Run Cycle where you hit a home run to every part of the ballpark.

Will Corey Seager be the player who entered 2018 as one of the best young players in baseball?

Corey walked, struck out, slugged a deep home run, and followed that with a deep out. Nice first game in almost a year.

Was Max Muncy a fluke?

Max drove in the first run of 2019 with a ground ball to right scoring Joc.  Max followed that with a strikeout and weak popup.  In his fourth at-bat, he crushed his first home run of 2019 to deep right field.

Can Kike Hernandez be the everyday starting 2nd baseman? Can he handle right-hand pitching well enough?

Hmmm, ground out, two-run home run, walk, solo home run. Both home runs came against right-hand pitching.

Will Austin Barnes bounce back from a horrible 2018 season and be more like the Barnes of 2017?

Everyone had an answer today, but Austin Barnes might have had the most emphatic answer. Single up the middle, home run to deep left-center field, pop up, and another single to center field.

Ryu was replacing Clayton Kershaw as the opening day starter and had big shoes to fill. Could the big lefty handle the assignment?

Ryu was as good yesterday as he had been all last year when he had the second-best ERA in the NL for starters with at least ten games started. Ryu cruised through five, gave up a home run in the sixth and finished the game with six innings, one earned run, no walks, and eight strikeouts. Ryu didn’t walk anyone all spring but went to a three-ball count on his first hitter before striking out Adam Jones. Ryu would have only one more three-ball count the rest of the game.

 

2019 Preview of Dodger Rotation Pieces

The Dodgers will start the year with two of their five starting pitchers on the injured list. One of those on the injured list is a three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time all-star. The other is Rich Hill, and for most teams that would mean using journeyman pitchers or prospects too soon, for the Dodgers it just means they will plug in a 2018 All-Star and one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

Just in case you missed this from my Spring Training post on the pitchers:

The rotation pieces Ryu/Stripling/Kenta Maeda/Julio Urias ended the spring with eight walks and fifty-five strikeouts. If you want to add Rich Hill that reads eight walks and sixty-six strikeouts.

Last year the Dodgers had six starters throw between 120 and 165 innings. This year I expect they will have seven that throw between 100 and 150 innings. I didn’t do the math to back this statement up.

Let’s do this by the Dodger rotation to start the year:

Starter OneHyun-Jin Ryu gets the opening day start with Clayton Kershaw unable to make it.   This was the first spring in years that Ryu came in without any question marks and he pitched fantastic.  I thought it was a done deal that Ryu would be gone as a free agent but he accepted the Dodgers qualifying offer and is back for at least one more season. In 2018 Ryu posted a sub 2.00 ERA and was lights out when he was able to take the mound. Ryu joined the Dodgers in 2013 but has only pitched over 150 innings twice in those six years.  I expect he will do it for the third time in 2019 and receive another qualifying offer at the end of the season.

Starter Two – 2018 All-Star Ross Stripling will get the ball for game two. Ross is really the sixth starter for the Dodgers but until Kershaw/Hill are back he’s in the rotation. Ross was brilliant last year when he stepped into the rotation on April 30th, and continued that brilliance all the way through the All-Star game break. He only had one good start after the break and due to injuries and the return of injured pitchers didn’t make another start after August 9th. Ross has his supporters, the most vocal being Paul Sporer of Fangraphs. As a starting pitcher, he walked only sixteen hitters against 117 strikeouts making his SO/BB rate the best on the team and just about the best in baseball.

You can see how that ranks with some of the best pitchers in baseball last year. As you can see the big issue with Ross is that when they make contact they make good contact as he has the second highest OPS+ against on the list. He needs to limit his walks and he did so when he started.

Player              SO    IP SO/W  ERA  FIP    K%  BB% ERA+ OPS+
Justin Verlander   290 214.0 7.84 2.52 2.78 34.8% 4.4%  159   65
Robbie Erlin        88 109.0 7.33 4.21 3.31 20.1% 2.7%   91   96
Chris Sale         237 158.0 6.97 2.11 1.98 38.4% 5.5%  207   43
Corey Kluber       222 215.0 6.53 2.89 3.12 26.4% 4.0%  151   66
Ross Stripling     136 122.0 6.18 3.02 3.42 27.0% 4.4%  128  100
Max Scherzer       300 220.2 5.88 2.53 2.65 34.6% 5.9%  168   56
Jacob deGrom       269 217.0 5.85 1.70 1.99 32.2% 5.5%  216   52
Carlos Carrasco    231 192.0 5.37 3.38 2.94 29.5% 5.5%  129   79
Clayton Kershaw    155 161.1 5.34 2.73 3.19 23.9% 4.5%  142   74
Patrick Corbin     246 200.0 5.13 3.15 2.47 30.8% 6.0%  137   63
Shane Bieber       118 114.2 5.13 4.55 3.23 24.3% 4.7%   96  109
Nathan Eovaldi     101 111.0 5.05 3.81 3.60 22.2% 4.4%  112   85
Miles Mikolas      146 200.2 5.03 2.83 3.28 18.1% 3.6%  137   75

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2019.

Ross may never make another All-Star but for most teams, he’d be a big part of their rotation, for the Dodgers he’s simply insurance.

Starter Three – Kenta Maeda has seen his innings drop from 175 to 134 to 125 during his three seasons as a Dodger. He hasn’t made a postseason start since 2016 which tells you where he falls in the Dodger rotation pecking order. His stats say that when he starts he’s been very good. Kenta isn’t exciting but he’s better than most starters while being a good bet to not be part of the rotation when the season ends.

Starter Four – Walker Buehler was the bulldog in the postseason that the Dodgers had been seeking winning key game five in the NLCS and starting the only game the Dodgers won in the World Series. Walker didn’t make his first start in 2018 until April 23rd and was never allowed to throw over 100 pitches for his first eleven starts. On his twelve start, he threw 105 pitches and lost 1 – 0 to the Brewers. The gloves were off and he would throw over 100 pitches five times in his last eleven starts of the regular season.  His ERA was 3.92 on July 25th after his eleventh start. He would drop his ERA to 2.62 and put the league on notice that the Dodgers had another ace in the making.

His rookie season earned 3.4 bWAR which was good for 8th among Dodger rookie pitchers but he did that with only 137 innings pitched.

Player                          WAR    IP ERA+ Year Age GS  ERA    K%   BB% OPS+
Fernando Valenzuela (RoY-1st)   4.8 192.1  135 1981  20 25 2.48 23.8%  8.1%   62
Hideo Nomo (RoY-1st)            4.7 191.1  149 1995  26 28 2.54 30.3% 10.0%   56
Orel Hershiser (RoY-3rd)        4.3 189.2  133 1984  25 20 2.66 19.5%  6.5%   69
Ismael Valdez (RoY-7th)         3.7 197.2  124 1995  21 27 3.05 18.7%  6.3%   74
Rick Sutcliffe (RoY-1st)        3.5 242.0  105 1979  23 30 3.46 11.5%  9.6%   83
Bill Singer                     3.5 204.1  117 1967  23 29 2.64 19.8%  7.1%   84
Don Sutton                      3.5 225.2  110 1966  21 35 2.99 22.8%  5.7%   79
Walker Buehler (RoY-3rd)        3.4 137.1  148 2018  23 23 2.62 27.9%  6.8%   56
Hyun-Jin Ryu (RoY-4th)          3.4 192.0  119 2013  26 30 3.00 19.7%  6.3%   90
Bob Welch                       3.4 111.1  174 1978  21 13 2.02 15.0%  5.9%   71
Pedro Martinez (RoY-9th)        3.0 107.0  146 1993  21  2 2.61 26.8% 12.8%   70

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2019.

Walker Buehler could be the new ace of the Dodgers. I can tell you right now if I had to name someone to start a game for the Dodgers his name would be Walker Buehler not Clayton Kershaw. This may not age well.

Starter Five – Julio Urias has just about arrived. It took longer than expected, the surgery detour putting a damper on the excitement we felt when he made his first start at the age of nineteen. They say he’s not ready for a full workload yet, but just like Walker Buehler in 2018, I expect Julio Urias to be pitching meaningful games in September and being a boss about it when he does. Julio Urias is the guy who I expect to open the most eyes this year and by the end of 2019, it will be open to debate as to who is the best young pitcher on the Dodgers, Julio or Walker.

Starter Six – Rich Hill should make it back sooner than Clayton Kershaw so he gets listed sixth. Rich is fun to watch and for the most part very good. He’s become a bit of a twitter hero as Dick Mountain and unlike Brandon McCarthy/Scott Kazmir proved to be an excellent free agent signing. This should be the last season Rich Hill is a Dodger, I hope he makes it a special one. Rich is 39 and has had two of the best five seasons by a Dodger starter aged 37 and up. That is cool and all but I’d kind of prefer Julio Urias in 2019 and I think the Dodgers will eventually feel the same way.

Player          WAR    IP ERA+ Year Age OPS+
Kevin Brown     4.5 211.0  169 2003  38   67
Rich Hill       2.2 135.2  125 2017  37   74
Tom Candiotti   2.0 135.0  108 1997  39  103
Rich Hill       1.5 132.2  106 2018  38   91
Tom Candiotti   1.3 190.1  108 1995  37   96

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2019.

Starter Seven: Just your run of the mill three-time Cy Young Award winner.  Clayton has a lot to prove in 2019 and it got off to an auspicious start when he had to shut himself down very early in spring training. As Dodger nation held their collective breath, he was able to get in mound work without any pain (so he says) and is now on a normal path that should see him get back in the rotation sometime in April.  I can’t doubt Clayton Kershaw until he gives me a reason to doubt him. Noted MLB writer Mike Petriello doesn’t think Clayton is in the conversation anymore as a top pitcher and he might be right. I wouldn’t bet on him being right, I’d bet on Clayton. I won’t post any Clayton stats, he owns all of the second decade of the 21st century, and most of the 21st century as well. He may not be the “greatest” pitcher but he is certainly the greatest lefty of the 21st century so far, and one of the greatest of all time.