The old saying of “you can never have too much pitching” may still be valid, but what if all that pitching happens to be starters? The Los Angeles Dodgers just announced the move of two starting pitchers, Ross Striping, who has been arguably the best L.A. starter this year, and Kenta Maeda to the bullpen. Striping was forced to the bullpen early on in his career due the Dodger’s abundance of pitchers when he first came up, and Maeda was pushed there last season where he performed remarkably. However, with the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu to the starting lineup, some changes had to be made.
This leaves a rotation, when completely healthy, of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Walker Buehler, Alex Wood, and Ryu. While Wood has experience in the bullpen, management has been reluctant to move him back there again. The Dodgers can lean on both Stripling and Maeda for long relief, or even be the stop-gap until Kenley Jansen returns. Last year, Brandon Morrow was a lights out bridge to Jansen, but he wears a different shade of blue these days. Can Stripling or Maeda be that piece to be the shut down arm before making way for Jansen? After the recent inability to hold a lead in the late innings, my hunch is we will see more of a Stripling-Maeda handling of the last two or three innings. There are many questions to be answered, but having seven healthy starters on staff will make every move to be second guessed.
One thing is for certain, the bullpen needs to be secure if L.A. wants to catch and pass the Diamondbacks, while holding off the Rockies. What would Dodgers fans rather see, Pedro “Heart Attack” Baez walking to the mound with a one run lead, or sending out either Striping or Maeda, to finish out a game?