After a Clayton Kershaw starts opening day against the Giants, he will be followed by Alex Wood, Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-jin Ryu in that order.
“We’re set right now as we see it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We have one off day but that’s kind of what we’re thinking.”
Both Maeda and Hill pitched last Thursday, with Maeda throwing in a minor league game. An off day on Wednesday this week pushes Hill to Thursday against the Angels. Maeda threw a bullpen session on Saturday in preparation for his start, and Hill threw his on Sunday.
Maeda is the lone right-hander in the group. But among 89 qualified pitchers in 2017 three Dodgers left-handed starters ranked in the top 13 in wOBA allowed against right-handed batters — Kershaw (.245) fourth, Hill (.253) fifth and Wood (.267) 13th. Ryu (.312) was 49th.
“We have a number of left-handed starters that are arguably better against righties and lefties,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “Handedness matters less than effectiveness against both sides. We have really good pitchers who happen to pitch with their left arm.”
While effectiveness might not be an issue for this set of five starters, depth might be a problem for the Dodgers. None of these five pitchers made more than 27 starts last season, and while part of that is by design with the club’s liberal use of the 10-day disabled list there will still likely be several more starts made by other pitchers.
The Dodgers have used at least nine starting pitchers in each of the last 20 seasons and during the last five seasons have averaged 13 starting pitchers.
Walker Buehler is chief among the depth options but the club’s top prospect will be limited this year, likely to 140-150 innings or so in total in his second full year back from Tommy John surgery. Julio Urias likely won’t be ready until after the All-Star break, with Ross Stripling and perhaps Brock Stewart also ready to make spot starts as needed.
“We feel very confident with the five guys we do have but we don’t have the depth we had in the last couple years,” Roberts said.