Dodgers: Potential Playoff Starting Rotation

Here I am going to break down the potential playoff starting rotation, based on factual numbers, and this Dodger fan’s opinion. 

Clayton Kershaw

This one used to be obvious. The emergence of Walker Buehler has made this a less equivocal answer for many Dodger fans. For many reasons, Clayton Kershaw for me is still our game 1 starter.

  • Experience

Yes I know that his playoff experience is the very reason many would disagree. I know his playoff reputation, and I despise it. Last year he pitched in 2 NLCS games, combining for 11 innings. He allowed 3 earned runs in those games. Kershaw perfection it wasn’t, but impressive enough to put confidence in his arm. In game 1 of the World Series at Dodger stadium–he pitched 7 innings with an absurd 11 strikeouts with ONE earned run. This gets swept under the rug frequently because of game 5. I posit that pitching in last years world series after game 2 had some suspect activity, and all pitchers can be given a wide berth. Whether it’s a conspiracy theory about the design of the baseballs, or some aristotelian confluence of events.

  • Recent numbers

If you’d like some more recent numbers, his last three starts he’s got 19 innings, 6 ER, and 18 strikeouts.

Beyond that, asking Walker Buehler to start game one isn’t something I’d be opposed to–I just think you have to give Clayton the nod.

Walker Buehler

Boy, this kid has been fun to watch pitch. From hitting 98 in the late innings, to a cutter in the low to mid 90’s, his stuff has never been in question. Location and poise were always going to be the factor that made him elite. He’s leaped the expectations that it would take another year or so. He’s been locating hard fastballs on the corners, he’s thrown nasty curveballs, and he’s just exuded a ‘baby bulldog’ mentality we didn’t think would come out so fast.

  • Recent History

In his last two starts he has 14 innings, 0 earned runs, 21 strikeouts. That’s unbelievable. For the year, Walker Buehler is currently sporting a 2.74 ERA, a .98 WHIP, a .198 average against him, and 143 K’s in 124 innings. There’s been a few bad starts in there mostly at the beginning of the year. Those bad ones should tell you what he’s looked like in good starts to accumulate those kinds of numbers. The kid IS here, and he’s going to be great in a game two scenario.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

The Korean Monster, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been fantastic since returning from an injury I can’t even say out loud without cringing. For the year he has a 2.00 ERA. In his last two starts he’s pitched 13 innings with 0 ER and 13 K’s. Lately, he’s provided more offense than he’s allowed. I watched Hyun-Jin Ryu pitch in person in 2013 and was in awe of the change of speeds, movement, and command. He’s been marred by injuries since then. When you’re injured people tend to forget your contributions, and when he’s right, he’s really effective.

  • 2018 numbers: 76 IP, 86 K’s, 2.00 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

Rich Hill

I know Rich Hill hasn’t been the same Rich Hill who threw a no-hitter last year. It was nine innings, don’t @ me. His 2018 ERA of 3.87 belies the ups and downs he’s had. I would guess many of our readers would prefer him coming out of the bullpen. That’s a possibility. I find it a comfort a man with the amount of experience as Rich Hill on the mound. When he’s on–he’s really hard to hit. He’s crafty and a man who knows how to adjust in mid-game. I think rather than start Kershaw on short rest, a fresh Rich Hill should be our fourth starter. It’s quite a luxury to have Dick Mountain as a number four playoff starter.

Final Thoughts

Having any one of these four fine starters in a rotation is a good feeling. You can disagree with the order if you want, and it’s probably valid. When opinions can be interchangeable due to good evidence–that’s a good sign for a baseball team. Let’s hope these four guys pitch lights out.

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    • This lineup won’t get THE DODGERS into the World Series this year. The Dodgers tried to put together a respectable team for 2018 gearing up for a 2019 run as they will have more salary cap room. Most likely Kershaw, Machado and Hill will be gone along with Dozier and Utley retiring. They will make a play for Harper and hope Seager come back 100 percent. They need 2 or 3 Starters and. Help in bullpen. If Kershaw and Machado stay they will be in good shape and will go after Harper anyway. Infield of Turner, Machado Seager Bellenger will be good, Verdugo Pederson and Puig with Taylor, Muncy and Hernandez on bench could be the Magic, Grandal or Barnes will be gone with Smith being promoted.