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Dodgers formulating pitching plans for start of regular season

How to fill innings in the early going

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

One casualty of MLB’s 99-day lockout is the shortened spring training leaving not enough time for most starting pitchers to build up to a normal workload in time for the regular season.

Dodgers-Mariners lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Mariners
Pos Dodgers Pos Mariners
SS Turner 2B Moore
CF Bellinger (L) 3B Toro
DH Taylor CF Rodríguez
C Barnes C Raleigh (S)
2B Lux (L) DH Torrens
3B Ríos (L) RF Souza Jr.
1B Lamb (L) LF Trammell (L)
LF Romero 1B Ford (L)
RF Outman (L) SS Walton (L)

Let’s use Clayton Kershaw as an example, since he started Friday’s spring training opener for the Dodgers. He faced five batters, walked one, and threw 21 pitches against Milwaukee. Even aggressively pitching Kershaw every five days — keep in mind the Dodgers usually try to build in extra rest for their pitchers whenever they can, so this is unrealistic — would give him spring starts on March 23, March 28, and April 2. Gradually increasing Kershaw’s innings could put him around five innings by the end of spring training, but more likely something like four innings.

“There’s a lot of guys that we’re going to ask to be able to take down three to five innings [to open the season,” manager Dave Roberts said on March 11, the day after the lockout ended and just before spring training began. “With the DH, it’s a little easier to kind of have that length guy, and it’s probably more important. Under that lens, to look at guys that can go longer versus having a six-man rotation early in the season.”

The Dodgers have Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Kershaw, Andrew Heaney, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, David Price, Mitch White, and Andre Jackson to fill those bulk innings. It’s expected MLB will have some sort of expanded rosters to help facilitate the need to fill innings, though that hasn’t yet been announced.

Roberts on Saturday morning at Camelback Ranch talked about the pitching plans, plus the addition of the left-hander Anderson, who signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers on Friday.

Spring training this year only lasts 24 days, with the Dodgers scheduled for only 18 games.

Ryan Pepiot starts on the mound for the Dodgers against the Mariners on Saturday, and fellow non-roster pitcher Robbie Erlin gets the start on Sunday against the Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Jackson starts Monday against the White Sox.

Other Dodgers slated to pitch on Saturday include Darien Núñez, Yefry Ramírez, Michael Grove, Victor Gonzalez, Mike Wright. Also making the trip to Peoria are a group of pitchers from minor league camp — Martin Santana, Guillermo Zuniga, Zach Plunkett, Justin Hagenman, and Nick Robertson.

Spring training opener game info

  • Teams: Dodgers at Mariners
  • Location: Peoria, Arizona
  • Time: 1:05 p.m. PT
  • TV: SportsNet LA
  • Radio: AM 570. KTNQ 1020 (Spanish)