We know the Dodgers are the best team in baseball in 2020. The record says it, the run differential says it, and even national outlets like ESPN (likely begrudgingly) agree. While it’s not a far stretch for Los Angeles to be in the playoffs — the club clinched it’s eighth consecutive NL West crown last week, they’re doing it partially with a new cast of arms sprinkled through the pitching staff.
Congratulations to the Los Angeles @Dodgers for clinching their EIGHTH STRAIGHT NL West crown!
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) September 23, 2020
From at least 2016 through 2019, the Dodgers rotation was made up of some variation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda. Then Walker Buehler prominently added his name to the fray by 2018.
Now, heading into the first postseason series of the new decade, Kershaw and Buehler are there, but new names like Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin make their first honest appearances. But that doesn’t mean the names above are on the sidelines for October.
Maeda and Hill
Kenta Maeda grew increasingly frustrated by his role in LA. In every postseason save for his first, he would be moved to the bullpen as the Dodgers looked to fill other obvious holes bridging to closer Kenley Jansen. Last offseason, he more or less politely demanded a trade to a contender where he could start. Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Freidman obliged and eventually ended up shipping Kenta-san to Minnesota for righty flamethrower Brusdar Graterol.
Now with the Twins, Maeda has thrived while becoming the staff ace of a very talented but young rotation. In 11 starts, the former Dodger is 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA for the AL Central leaders.
— Dustin Morse (@morsecode) September 24, 2020
Another much less young piece in that Minnesota rotation is old friend Rich Hill.
Hill, who was recently in Dodgers news involving Buehler, has found success with the Twins. Even at the age of 40 and coming off of an offseason elbow surgery, the crafty lefty sports a 2-2 record with a 3.27 ERA in 7 starts.
Notably, short-lived former Dodger reliever Sergio Romo is also collecting saves in Minnesota at the age of 37.
Ryu and Ross Stripling
Elsewhere in the league, LA’s game 1 starter a season ago Hyun-Jin Ryu has been everything the
Toronto Buffalo Blue Jays had hoped for in his first season north of the border in New York. The 2019 All-Star Game starter for the NL has anchored an otherwise awful Toronto rotation this season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu throws his seventh quality start of the year, posting a quality start in 7 of his 12 starts. The rest of the Jays' starting rotation has 4 quality starts combined.
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) September 25, 2020
In 12 starts, Ryu has a 5-2 record with a 2.69 ERA to lead a team that secured its first playoff berth since 2016.
Also on that Blue Jays ballclub is old friend Ross Stripling. In a surprising move at this year’s trade deadline, the Dodgers traded Stripling to Toronto over shifting him to the bullpen after being unable to capitalize on a rotation spot in the shortened season.
Unfortunately, things haven’t gone too much better with the Jays. In 4 appearances (3 starts), the Big Swing Podcast host has a 5.70 ERA in 15 innings pitched. However, advanced stats indicate he may be a victim of some bad luck, with a 3.72 FIP telling a different story.
We wish the best of luck to each and every former Dodger in the postseason (at least until they potentially match up with LA).