Unlike most teams in baseball, the Dodgers have a plethora of starting pitchers to choose from when it comes time to finalize their roster.
Of course, there are the obvious candidates that will make the starting rotation. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price are pretty much guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. The last two spots in the rotation are currently being decided in Spring Training.
With the subtraction of Rich Hill, Hyun Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda, the back end of the Dodgers starting rotation will be a fun challenge for Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts before Opening Day.
The Dodgers added free agent pitchers Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson during this offseason. Wood, who played for the Dodgers from 2015-2018, has an interesting contract that is guaranteed $4 million for the season but could potentially reach $10 million with all of the incentives and bonuses that make up his contract.
Those incentives and bonuses are based on appearances and innings that Wood is able to pitch in.
Jimmy Nelson on the other hand, has promise but was shut down from throwing for a few weeks to address an injury. Thus, I believe he will be on the major league roster but most likely pitch out of the bullpen to start the season. Nelson could then join the rotation as a swingman reliever much like Ross Stripling has done in the past.
Ross Stripling is one of the many young Dodgers who has pitched out of the bullpen and in the rotation as a starter. While he hasn’t had the greatest success as a starter, he is capable of being a starter and he did become an All Star in 2018 as a starting pitcher. The bullpen is where Stripling shines in my opinion.
Other young pitchers that could see time in the starting rotation are Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May. I think that Gonsolin is a little more matured in terms of his control and pitches which is why I think he makes the rotation over Dustin May. However, Dustin May will possibly start the season either in the bullpen or down in triple A.
In the long run, I see Dustin May as a lights out closer instead of a starting pitcher. May has an extremely good sinker that is perfect for inducing ground balls and double plays. That combined with his high velocity fastball make him a terrible threat at the backend of a bullpen.
The most underrated player right now in Spring Training and in talks regarding the starting rotation has to be Julio Urias. Since 2018, he has pitched out of the bullpen and has been one of the Dodgers best left handed pitchers since. For some reason though, he has fallen out of the spotlight and been a name that is casually thrown around.
I think that Julio Urias will make the starting rotation regardless if he is taking the fourth or fifth spot. Urias needs to be a starter and not just a reliever. Sure in the playoffs where it is rare that a team uses a four or five starter, use him in the bullpen. Not using Urias as a starter would be a huge mistake for the Dodgers in 2020.
All in all, here is who I think will comprise the Dodgers 2020 starting rotation:
- Walker Buehler
- Clayton Kershaw
- David Price
- Julio Urias
- Tony Gonsolin
Alex Wood, Jimmy Nelson and Ross Stripling will start the season in the bullpen and Dustin May will begin his 2020 season as a pitcher for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Just because I have these pitchers being in the bullpen or the minor leagues, though, does not mean they won’t get a chance to pitch in the starter role. Injuries always happen and baseball is an unexpected sport.
As always, the Dodgers best asset is their depth.