Dodgers Key Starters Stepping Up But Toles Injury A Shock

With Kenta Maeda righting his ship with three straight solid performances including last night when he pitched into the ninth inning for the first time his major league career, with Julio Urias more impressive with each outing, with Alex Wood solidifying his starting spot, and with Hyun-Jin Ryu ready to return to the rotation this evening, the Dodgers’ starting staff is in fine shape without the always-injured and unreliable Rich Hill and with Brandon McCarthy also now on the disabled list.

Hill says he’s ready to return next week after somehow lasting through five innings and 68 pitches in his second rehab start. He was not really that sharp, though, walking three and hitting two batters. Will Dave Roberts just add him to the rotation, resuming that brief six-man staff he had going not long ago, or will one of the solid performers get screwed over to

appease Hill, the monumental $48 Million mistake? And what about McCarthy, who has pitched well above expectations so far this season? After a simulated game, he’s slated to return to the team next week. Depth of starting pitching is a luxury most teams seldom enjoy, and with the plethora of injuries that Dodgers’ starters have suffered over the past few seasons, the Dodgers are now, apparently, in an enviable position. But, Roberts needs to determine what is really the best for the team in determining who is in and who is out, and not base those decisions on who has a $48 Million contract (Hill, McCarthy, Scott Kazmir) and who is making $2.8 M (Wood) or $3 M plus incentives (Maeda).

The Dodgers, now winners of five in a row and ten of 12, have closed to within a game-and-a-half of the NL West leading Rockies, with whom they now begin a four-game series. Colorado is almost as hot as LA, winning four of their last five and eight of 12, and have had their best start through 35 games in franchise history.

The Dodgers may or may not face lefty Tyler Anderson tonight, as he tweaked his left knee in his last start and he might be given another day or two between starts. Despite the Dodgers’ difficulty with lefties, they’d be sorry to see Anderson bypassed, having beaten him twice already this season, scoring seven runs in 11 innings off of him over his two starts.

Ryu’s las two outings were excellent, but prior to that he fared less well against the Rockies (he’s also 0-2 against them this season). Given the Dodgers’ current pitching status, Ryu really needs a solid performance tonight in the hitters’ paradise of Coors’ Field to keep his rotation spot.

The Dodgers strength against righties took a major hit with Andrew Toles season-ending knee injury, with Adrian Gonzalez on the DL and with the return of righty-hitting Scott Van Slyke from Triple-A as Toles’ replacement; the team’s depth of lefty hitters is not nearly what is was just three days ago. Chase Utley’s resurgence has been a big lift, and the

plan to have Cody Bellinger play first base every day in Gonzalez’ absence has now been scuttled. It looks like Utley will be getting the starts at first against righties with Bellinger back to left in Toles’ absence, and with Franklin Gutierrez likely in left against lefties with Bellinger then at first.

One final note, the Rockies lead the majors so far this season in home runs hit against lefty pitchers, with 19. The Dodgers, with a grand total of four homers off lefties, are tied for second to last behind the three hit by Seattle.

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