If there is one thing Dodgers fans have grown accustomed to, it is the fact that the Dodgers are dealing with a ton of injuries. Although the entire team has been affected in one way or another by the injury bug, no one has had it worse than the starting rotation.
Even before the season began the Dodgers knew they were going to be short handed with Brandon McCarthy landing on the disabled list last season, requiring Tommy John. It wasn’t long before Brett Anderson and Hyun-jin Ryu followed him to the disabled list as well, both requiring serious surgeries.
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The Dodgers tried to replace the trio of pitchers by signing relatively affordable Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda and trading for a promising flamethrower named Frankie Montas. They also turned to pitchers like Alex Wood and Chin-Hui Tsao as stop gap options. But of course, Montas has landed on the disabled list twice already this season with recurring rib injuries, Wood was shut down with elbow soreness, and Tsao suffered a triceps strain.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 6, 2016
Even with enough arms to staff two rotations if healthy, the Dodgers rotation started to look pretty pathetic, the only bright spot being perennial Cy Young and MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw. But of course, once again, this was even too good to be true. Shortly after his worst performance of the season, the Dodgers announced that Kershaw was too joining his teammates on the disabled list with a mildly herniated disc in his lower back and there has yet to be a timetable for his return.
Fortunately, there is at least some good news in all of this. This week the Dodgers finally welcomed back two of their core starting pitchers. On Sunday, Brandon McCarthy made his first start of the season against the Rockies since going down early last year. After such a long time out of the game and against the potent Rockies, Dodgers fans weren’t too sure what to expect. Fortunately, McCarthy held the Rockies to only two hits while striking out eight and walking only one. He was only able to last five innings but to expect more than that from him at this point would be unrealistic.
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Then last night, Dodgers fans got even more reinforcements with Hyun-jin Ryu making his 2016 debut after missing all of the 2015 season. That’s right, Ryu had not pitched since the 2014 NLDS. That translates to over 21 months without throwing a major league pitch. Unfortunately, Ryu’s start didn’t go nearly as well as McCarthy’s.
Ryu was unable to get through 5 innings after seeing the velocity on his fastball drop from as high as 92 mph to as low as 85 mph.
“My velocity went down, as compared to the first few innings,” Ryu said. “I’ll just have to adjust that as I play more games.”
He gave up eight hits including a home run to Melvin Upton Jr., the first batter he faced. The Dodgers offense was equally as bad, racking up a total of 2 hits, leading to a 6-0 loss in the series opener.
How many games do you think @HyunJinRyu99 needs to get back to normal?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 8, 2016
The most important thing to remember in all of this though is that the Dodgers rotation is slowly shaping into what the front office expected it to look like. If McCarthy pitches anything like he did in his last full season with the Yankees, where he finished with a 2.89 ERA and if Ryu stays anywhere near his career 3.17 ERA the Dodgers rotation will have a solid 1-4, and that doesn’t include Clayton Kershaw. Once he returns the Dodgers rotation could lead the team into the second half and straight into the playoffs.
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