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Dodgers Playoff Starting Pitching Up in the Air

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The arrest of Julio Urias on Sunday night after an LAFC game for domestic violence thinned out the Dodgers’ potential playoff starting rotation.

Julio Urias signed with the Dodgers at 16 and will become a free agent after the end of the current MLB season. He carved his name into Dodgers lore at the end of the 2020 season by earning the last out of the World Series run that ended a 31-year-old drought. 

In 2019, MLB suspended Urias for 20 games after having been arrested for domestic battery.

The Dodgers will not re-sign Urias based on the handling of Trevor Bauer’s sexual assault case, who was put on administrative leave and released by the team on January 12th. Urias absence leaves a gaping hole in a pitching staff that has been running shallow all season long. 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has had to use rookies to make up the starting rotation after dealing with injuries.

The Dodgers placed Dustin May on the 15-day injury list on May 18th and moved him to the 60-day list days later, immediately ending his season.  

Tony Gonsolin pitched inconsistently throughout the season. He never reached the heights he demonstrated the previous season when he finished the year with a 2.14 ERA. The Dodgers placed Gonsolin on the injury list on August 19th and a few days later confirmed he will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season.

The Rookies

Roberts has relied on rookies Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, and Ryan Pepiot to fill in the gaps left behind. 

Miller last pitched against the National League leaders, the Atlanta Braves, and earned the only win in the 4-game series. He pitched 7 innings and gave up just one run against the Braves and pitched himself into the playoff picture.  

Emmet Sheehan pitched 4 innings against the Braves and only gave up one run during a 4-2 loss. The Dodgers called Sheehan up when the rosters expanded at the beginning of September. He owns a 3-1 record with a 5.31 ERA. 

The Dodgers sent Ryan Pepiot down to the minors in order to make room for Sheehan. In doing so, Pepiot will not have a full year of service.  During his three appearances with the Dodgers, he owns a 1-0 record and holds a 1.29 ERA. 

Kershaw, Lynn and Buehler

The Dodgers must rely on the rookies to assemble a starting rotation to support Clayton Kershaw and Lance Lynn. Roberts needs to put the rookies into high-intensity situations that will prepare them for the playoff environment. Their success depends on it.

Kershaw and Lynn will certainly need it. Since returning from his latest injury list stint, Kershaw’s fastball has not surpassed 90 mph. During his last appearance on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, Kershaw’s fastball and slider were down by 2.7 mph from his season average.  Kershaw gave up two home runs in the game. 

Lynn has given up 37 home runs all season. During the month of August, Lynn gave up a season-high 9 home runs in the month. It’s been a continuous problem Lynn needs to address if he wants to have success in the playoffs. 

Walker Buehler pitched his first rehab assignment in Oklahoma on Sunday, where he will be working to come back from a Tommy John surgery. He started the game and pitched 2 innings while striking out 2 and threw 24 pitches. Fifteen of the 24 pitches were strikes. Buehler will not be built up to pitch more than 3 innings by the end of his rehab assignment.

During the last month of the season, questions need to be answered based on the starting pitching performances.
Roberts and the rest of the Dodgers front office have a busy month ahead of them before they decide who will pitch game one of the National League Divisional Series.

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