The Dodgers have a full four game lead and the offense seems to be firing on all cylinders. But questions about the starting rotation still loom large. The basic question is who will be the starting pitchers “down the stretch” (the rest of the regular season), as well as during the post season.
Let’s start with the “healthy” starters – not on the disabled list. That list includes rookies Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, and Jose De Leon. Add Rich Hill and proven veteran loser (PVL) Bud Norris. Now add potential returnees from the disabled list Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood, and Brandon McCarthy.
So who goes on the playoff list? Start with Clayton Kershaw, who is the best Dodger pitcher until he proves otherwise. Add Kenta Maeda, who has done a yeoman’s job of getting it done without an overpowering fastball. After that, we just have questions. Rich Hill could be #3 (or arguably #2), but only if his blisters stay in check. Julio Urias could be #4, unless the Dodgers decide to hold down his innings to preserve his development into 2017. Ross Stripling is good, but only for the first two times through a lineup. Brock Stewart was great in the minors, but has not yet proven himself in the majors. Ditto De Leon. Brett Anderson had a devil of a time trying to come back from the DL the first time, who is to say he will be successful the second time around? Scott Kazmir just isn’t that good even when he’s healthy. Ditto Bud Norris. Alex Wood may come back. Brandon McCarthy just gave up ten runs in a minor league game.
So there you have it. The playoff hopes are pinned on Kershaw’s back, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill’s blisters, and Julio Urias’ development.