We open up the Dodgers Nation mailbag this week, and address questions regarding Yu Darvish’s possible return, the N.L West competition, and expectations from the young Dodgers pitchers this year. Enjoy!
Are you for or against bringing back Yu Darvish?
This is a difficult question to answer with a simple “yes” or “no” reply. There’s certainly pros and cons to bringing back Darvish. The obvious pro is that he’s a really good pitcher and good pitchers tend to help teams win games.
However, there are some cons, as well. After working so hard and getting creative enough to get under the luxury tax threshold this year, the Dodgers front office probably would like to stay there. Signing Darvish would likely bump the Dodgers back over that threshold unless they made another move that would off-load some salary. Now, could they make such a move? Sure. But as of now, they haven’t, and until they do, it doesn’t bode well for a Darvish return.
There’s also that whole Game 7 of the World Series thing. Or, Games 3 AND 7 if you want to get detailed. We all know how Darvish struggled on the biggest stage last year, and who knows how much that could affect the Dodgers desire for a reunion, or his, for that matter.
All in all, I wouldn’t mind the Dodgers passing on Darvish unless they somehow got creative and found a way to stay under the luxury tax. I think their rotation would be fine without him.
Do you believe the Dodgers bringing Matt Kemp back was one of the worst decisions ever? Especially giving up Gonzalez?
Um… no. Actually, it seems to be a very good decision that helped both teams. Remember, that move was not primarily made for any of those players who the Dodgers and Braves exchanged. It was made so both teams could be better suited financially. As stated already, the Dodgers finally got under the luxury tax, which will be huge for them going forward into free agency next off-season.
As far as the players go, it’s likely Kemp never plays a game for the Dodgers this year. And although Gonzalez was a great player and a fan favorite during his tenure, there was really no room for him with that Bellinger kid around now.
Will Urias be back this Season?
Yeah, he should. The timeframe, however, isn’t so clear. After his surgery last June, the initial diagnosis put Urias out 12-14 months, which meant he wouldn’t return until sometime after the 2018 All-Star break. However, it was reported not too long ago that his recovery was going well, and he was ahead of schedule, with a possible May timeframe mentioned.
Regarding Walker Buehler, it seemed like the Dodgers were giving him the kid gloves treatment. Is he seriously going to be turned loose this season?
“Turned loose” is probably not the term I’d use. While it may not be “kid gloves” treatment, you can be assured the Dodgers will be cautious with their young prospect. Although Buehler zipped through the minors last year, he only pitched a combined 98 innings between his time there and the majors. So, don’t expect him to make 30 starts or pitch 200+ innings. I’d imagine that the Dodgers will limit his pitch-counts and innings, especially early on in the season, with the goal of having him available for the stretch run.
Staying on the Buehler topic…
At what point in the season do you think Walker Buehler cracks the rotation?
Hard to say right now. If last year’s injury to Urias showed us anything, it’s that there’s no secret formula to prevent pitching injuries. The Dodgers tried to be careful with Urias and let him start the year down at AAA. They monitored his pitches. They limited his innings. And he still got hurt.
I don’t think it’s out of the question for Buehler to earn a starting spot right out of the gate. If that happens, of course, the Dodgers will have to find a way to limit him later on in the year. One way or another, he’s not pitching an entire season from start to finish.
He also probably won’t be pitching out of the bullpen. Dave Roberts has indicated that he expects Buehler to be a starter this season, and I don’t think moving him in and out of the rotation would benefit his development.
The health of the other Dodgers’ starters will also determine when Buehler gets the call. Assuming they don’t bring back Darvish, their starting five (Kershaw, Hill, Wood, Maeda, & Ryu) all have a history with injuries. If any of them go down, Buehler would probably be the first one to replace them. I say we see Buehler by May, if not before.
How far away is Yasiel Sierra form the bigs?
After pitching fairly well down in AA last year (2.54 ERA, 11.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 in 50 Inn) Sierra moved up to AAA and struggled a bit (4.22 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 6.3 BB/9 over 21 Inn.) He could get a spring invite, but he’ll likely start the year in Oklahoma City, and the Dodgers will see how he progresses. With so many questions surrounding the Dodgers bullpen after Kenley Jansen, it’s not out of the question to think Sierra could get a call sometime this year.
Who poses the biggest threat to the Dodgers N.L West reign this season? My take, in order: Rockies, DBacks, Giants, Padres.
The recent move by the Giants certainly make them a better team, especially in the short term. If their pitching staff can stay healthy, I do think they’ll be a totally different team than that 98-loss pile of dung we saw last year, and could be contenders again.
The Diamondbacks will be returning almost all of their key pieces that earned them the Wild Card last year, and the 3rd best record in the National League. They have a very good offense, and some good young starting pitchers that are only going to improve. There’s no reason to believe that Arizona won’t continue to contend for the division title in 2018.
It will be interesting to see if the Rockies will duplicate their success from last year. It will likely depend on how their young pitching staff develops. They signed Wade Davis, who should shore up their bullpen, but their offense will need to find some production from players other than Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.
I believe it’ll be another close year in the N.L West, and other than the Padres, I don’t think you can count any team out. If I had to predict the order right now, I’d go: