Instability in the Dodgers’ starting rotation is a feature, not a bug.
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The Dodgers do not plan on deploying five starters, even in the best of health. They plan on a deep supporting cast, on pitchers that need not go deep into games and often do not go deep into seasons without a trip to the injured list. They manipulate the injured list to rest their starters too, all in the service of arriving in October with their strongest arms as fresh as possible.
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Advertisement However, every now and then, they can line up their top five. With Rich Hill scheduled to be activated Sunday, the Dodgers would have their projected top five starters all available for the first time this season, with Ross Stripling and Julio Urias shifted out of the rotation and into a shaky bullpen.
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“It stabilizes things,” manager Dave Roberts said.
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So the Dodgers’ hearts skipped more than a few beats Saturday, the day before Hill would make his season debut, when Clayton Kershaw nearly slid into an injury. Kershaw snagged a feed from first baseman Max Muncy, sprinted toward first base and slid into the base to beat the runner — upending the runner in the process.
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Neither player had to be replaced, although the base itself had to be. No human suffered an injury.
Kershaw was on his game. The Dodgers’ offense was too, even if it waited until after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to spring into action
Dodgers‘ Alex Verdugo isn’t stressing about not starting By Bill Shaikin Apr 27, 2019 | 6:55 PM The result: a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Dodgers won their third consecutive game, maintaining a one-game lead over the San Diego Padres in the National League West and joining the Seattle Mariners as the only 18-win teams in the major leagues
Kershaw emerged with his first victory of the season. The Dodgers scored all their runs in the seventh inning, on a score-tying sacrifice fly from Chris Taylor and a two-run triple from Joc Pederson
Cody Bellinger did not get a hit, his first hitless game in a week. But Alex Verdugo got two more hits, boosting his batting average to .361
But the unsung hero, at least from his line in the box score, was Pedro Baez. Do not be fooled by that seemingly basic “1 0 0 0 0 1” line
The Dodgers handed that 3-1 lead to Caleb Ferguson for the eighth inning, and Ferguson struggled even to throw a strike
Walk. Single. Walk
Bases loaded, none out. Tying run in scoring position. Even a sacrifice fly or force play would narrow the Dodgers lead to one run
The Dodgers rushed in Baez
Pop fly. Pop fly. Strikeout
Advertisement No runs. The Dodger Stadium fans, the ones that so often have showered him with boos over the years, jumped to their feet and rewarded him with a loud ovation
That left the final three outs to closer Kenley Jansen
Jansen had given up a run in six of his previous seven appearances. This time, he worked a perfect inning for his ninth save
The Kershaw performance was usual in one way, promising and unusual in another
The statistics typified his usual excellence: seven innings, four hits, one run, no walks, eight strikeouts. For all the talk about his diminished velocity, his earned-run average after three starts this season is 2.25
But the diminished velocity is real, and so too is Kershaw’s reinvention. The curve that used to be his trademark strikeout pitch has given way to his newly trusted slider
Of his eight strikeouts, one came on the fastball, two on the curve and five on the slider
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