The Los Angeles Dodgers are now just two weeks away from taking the field on Opening Day and while they can find comfort in knowing Clayton Kershaw will take the mound April 6, the pitching staff as a whole is in a state of flux.
Hyun-Jin Ryu returned to Los Angeles Monday for further evaluation on his left shoulder and an update is expected at some point during the day. At the very least, it’s likely Ryu will begin the season on the disabled list, which isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all for the Dodgers as they don’t need a fifth starter until mid-April.
According to Ron Cervenka of Think Blue LA, manager Don Mattingly indicated he may utilize a ‘bullpen game’ for the first game a fifth starter is needed — either April 13 or 14:
Mattingly said when 5th starter is needed on 4/13 or 14, it will probably be a bullpen game. Said next time around (4/23) they'll know more.
— ThinkBlueLA (@Think_BlueLA) March 23, 2015
Mattingly is no stranger to working with a starting rotation that’s impacted by injury. Just last season, he operated with a revolving door of fourth and fifth starters for much of the year. He’s also familiar with using a bullpen game — having done so Sept. 21 against the Chicago Cubs.
Jamey Wright served as the starter that day, pitched two games and then handed the ball to Carlos Frias, Chris Perez, Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen, who earned a save in the Dodgers’ win.
Should Mattingly ultimately decide against a bullpen game, Mike Bolsinger, Frias and Joe Wieland figure to be candidates to make a spot-start. If Ryu’s shoulder trouble lingers into May, the Dodgers may be more inclined to acquire a pitcher, which general manager Farhan Zaidi said they’ve been in search of throughout the offseason.
Dodgers Spring Training: Mike Bolsinger