GLENDALE — The Dodgers are about to enter their final week in Arizona and basically the same questions they had going into spring training remain with the added uncertainty about Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler’s status for Opening Day being raised in camp.
Let’s take a look at these questions and see what you can look for in the last 11 days of spring training.
Starting rotation should get some clarity soon
Manager Dave Roberts has just about ruled out Clayton Kershaw starting on Opening Day but he did take a turn for the better with his bullpen session on Thursday.
“Clayton has his pen tomorrow [Sunday],” Roberts said, “which will be his full repertoire.”
Meanwhile Walker Buehler is on track to start a Cactus League next week and that should give him an opportunity to make one more start/appearance before the regular season starts.
“Walker is going to pitch Tuesday,” Roberts said, “Three and 45 with us, I think he has pen today.”
Walker Buehler threw a 35-pitch bullpen session today. Scheduled to start a Major League game on Tuesday.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 16, 2019
With Rich Hill, Hyun-jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling all progressing towards being stretched out to five innings of work, the idea of Kershaw and/or Buehler still being available to pitch the first week of the season is still in play.
Bullpen spots still in play for several pitchers
Roberts reiterated today that the Dodgers will carry eight pitchers in the bullpen. Whether or not that includes Stripling as a reliever remains to be seen. But for the moment, let’s assume Kershaw and Buehler are part of starting rotation and Stripling is the swing man to start the season.
Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez are locks to join Stripling from the right side. Yimi Garcia has pitched well this spring and he certainly put himself closer to making the Opening Day roster.
“Yimi is doing a nice job,” manager Dave Roberts said after last night’s game, “he’s got a good look in his eyes, very focused, fastball in his arm slot was just that ride up that he had and that was really good to see, and he threw some good sliders too.”
Roberts said Garcia will get his first back to back appearances next week. Roberts also said that there has been some time, December 2016, since his surgery so they have some latitude with his usage but they will remain mindful of it too.
JT Chargois and Dylan Floro are probably in play for one other spot.
The left-handed component of the Dodger bullpen is a little unclear. Scott Alexander is the one healthy pitcher that the Dodgers can add. However, Julio Urias and Caleb Ferguson could provide some punch that Alexander doesn’t have in his arsenal of pitches.
Roberts said the plan is for Urias to get to four innings as a ceiling of his being stretched out. He previously said that the Dodgers are planning to build up Caleb Ferguson to three innings.
Corey Seager has another box to check to get ready for the season
Roberts told the media today that Seager is going to play back to back games on the minor league side starting this afternoon.
“He is going to play five innings over there and I expect him to get through it,” Roberts said, “I think the plan is for him tomorrow is to go seven innings. That will be good.”
Roberts added that “At some point next week, he’ll be back with us, he’s right on track.”
Roberts also said that he sees second base being handled by primarily by Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández and that Max Muncy can be used the in the right spot.
Muncy is still day-to-day with a sore wrist though Roberts said that he would be able to play if they were in the regular season.
“He’s taking swings today,” Roberts said today when speaking about Muncy, “so hopefully he comes out of it well.” “I can’t say if he is going to be in there tomorrow, hopeful he comes at today, swinging the bat just fine.”