After living and dying the past couple seasons with this staff I would describe my opinion of those articles and beat writer proclamations as cautiously hopeful and fairly skeptical.
While the bullpen gave me no real cause to worry especially with the resigning of Jensen and the addition of veteran and World Series champion Romo, it was the above listed starters that I couldn't help but harbor some concern about.
Allow me to share those very concerns pitcher by pitcher.
Ok the best pitcher on the planet should relieve some of that tension right?
Well yes but keep in mind Clayton isn't a spring chicken anymore and coming off an extended DL stay last season reminds me that he is one strained back away from missing crucial starts in what is being deemed a World Series or bust type season.
Although Hill was very reliable down the stretch and into the playoffs last season the elephant in the room is his continual problem with blisters on his pitching hand. He has already missed starts early in this campaign and the re occurring blister problem is a valid concern.
Otherwise reliable and an early to mid season inning burner his ineffectiveness late last season including deep into the playoffs was obvious. He seemed to run out of gas. His innings per game dropped as opposing teams didn't seem to be intimidated or fooled by his stuff as he became routinely reluctant to challenge hitters. Can he get better or has he hit his Dodger high point already?'
When he is healthy he is a dominant force on the mound but staying healthy for the husky Korean has been a problem. The Dodgers could really benefit from a injury free 2017 from him but his track record doesn't lead many to believe that he won't spend a short to extended period of time on the DL.
Has pitched very well early this season but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and once again his long term health has management holding their collective breath.
Alex Wood/Ross Stripling:
Are waiting in the wings to pick up starts when the Dodgers need them too, and with this staff there should be many opportunities.
Wood, although he pines for a spot in the rotation, can't seem to break out or demonstrate any level of consistency when given a chance. He seems destined, at least for now, to fill the roll of long reliever and spot starter with the club.
Stripling has shown flashes of who he might become as a starter but hasn't been handed the ball on a consistent basis by Roberts or Honeycutt so no one knows what he can do in a long term starting role.
A solid three or four rotation guy since arriving but probably not what the Dodgers where hoping for from the aging pitcher. Now with his injury he becomes a question mark as well.
The wonder kid who has been up and down from the minors to the bigs more than Im sure he cares to remember.
I guess I understand the clubs vision for him as they primarily are trying to save his arm for late season starts. I understand but do not agree as I date back to an era when pitchers who were ready, and I know Urias is ready, for the majors were called up and assumed a role in the starting rotation in order to help their team drive for a Pennant and ultimately a World Series.
Pitchers that come to mind are Valenzuela, Welch, Stewart, Oral Hershiser, Tim Belcher etc...
The starting pitching may in fact settle in and may go the rest of the season without any major setbacks regarding injuries and missed starts but that would be a surprise given our staffs average age.
Even younger staffs usually deal with injuries, it's an unavoidable dynamic in Major League Baseball but I hope the boys in blue can avoid any major set'backs', knees, elbows, shoulders, or blisters.