Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said yesterday that it’s not feasible for Rich Hill to return from injury in time to become a starting pitcher in the playoffs.
Dave Roberts said today that it is not feasible for Rich Hill to build back up as a starter this season. With Ross Stripling in the same boat, that leaves Dustin May, Kenta Maeda, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías as fourth-starter options for October. Or a piggy-back combination.
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) August 12, 2019
Breaking Down the Options
Hill being all but ruled out for a starting role means that the Dodgers would need a fourth-starter. But the million dollar question is: who should the fourth-starter be?
Let’s take a look at the numbers from the guys listed in the Tweet:
Julio Urias pitched last season in the postseason and did well, but he pitched in a relief role. He’s picked up 6 starts here in 2019, and is primed to be in the rotation by 2020, but his value to this team come October may lay best at the back end of the bullpen.
Maeda is the most experienced starter out of this group, but he often struggles on the road, and he’s inconsistent at home. Moreover, most of his postseason work has been as a reliever (20 postseason games, 3 starts). He picked up 3 October starts in 2016 and allowed 8 runs in 10.2 innings pitched. While he has the experience, he is primed to perform best as a relief pitcher.
After a rocky debut, Gonsolin has come on strong his past two outings as both a relief pitcher in Colorado, and a starting pitcher against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. His first two seasons in the minor leagues with the Dodgers were exclusively in relief, so he has enough experience. But his wipeout arsenal may play best out of the bullpen in fireman role.
Dustin May pitched well in his two starts at the majors, with Dodger defense somewhat costing him in his first start. The front office will have their eyes keenly fixed on him over his next few outing as they give him the leash he needs to prove whether he’s ready for the spotlight of the postseason rotation.
Maeda and Urias have both experienced pitching in the postseason, May and Gonsolin have not. However, that doesn’t mean one of those two players should not be a starter. May has pitched impressively through 5 innings in each of his starts. The Dodgers could use May for 5 innings, Maeda for 2 innings, Urias for 1 inning, and Gonsolin for 1 inning if May is chosen as the starter.
Urias tends to do well when pitching for 1 inning, and Maeda, as mentioned earlier, does much better as a relief pitcher, as he proved last year in the postseason. As of right now, they should have a piggy-back combination, unless May or Gonsolin can prove to be a reliable option for 6-7 innings.
Essentially, Los Angeles is experiencing a “good problem to have” situation.