We all knew there were going to be some bumps in the road while preparing for the start of the 2020 baseball season, and such events struck sooner rather than later for the ball club. News broke a couple of days ago that 10 total players for the Dodgers had tested positive for the virus and would undergo a two-week self-isolation before resuming baseball activities with the team.
The Dodgers suffered another big blow to their season early on as starting pitcher David Price announced yesterday via social media that he was opting out of the 2020 season. He cited that the health and safety of himself and his family are what led to the decision, and rightly so.
— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) July 4, 2020
Now that Price will be out of the picture for the season, Dave Roberts and Co. will have decisions to make to fill the hole in the rotation, with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, and Alex Wood making up the other four. The Dodgers don’t have to look too far as they have an abundance of options to chose from. Let’s take a look and compare which Dodger has the best chance at securing the final spot.
Longshots: Josiah Gray, Michael Grove, Mitchell White, Dennis Santana, Marshall Kasowski
Gonsolin’s Major League debut didn’t go as he would’ve hoped this past season as he allowed 6 runs in 4 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, he quickly bounced back picking up his first career save in his next appearance against the Colorado Rockies. Throughout the rest of the season, Gonsolin posted an outstanding 2.93 ERA (3.86 FIP) to go along with 37 strikeouts and 15 walks in 11 games (6 starts). While Gonsolin’s longterm future could wind up in the bullpen, he has proven that he’s more than capable to handle starting. In a shortened season where he would make somewhere between 8-12 starts, depending on if the Dodgers stick to a 5-man rotation and if he can remain healthy, his talent could be well utilized.
Dustin May also made his Major League debut in 2019, in which he faired a little better than Gonsolin. Unlike Gonsolin, May has always been a starting pitcher and has a higher ceiling in terms of unlocked potential. Over 14 games (4 starts) May posted a 3.63 ERA (2.90 FIP) with 32 strikeouts and 5 walks. While his ERA was respectable, his numbers were somewhat inflated due to him being pushed to the bullpen in preparation for the postseason. That shift started off rocky, but things quickly turned around for him as he became more acclimated with the role. Since May would’ve most likely been on an innings limit in a normal season, there shouldn’t be any reason to hold back the Big Red now.
Stripling has been a Swiss Army knife for the Dodgers ever since he made his debut back in 2016. He’s shuffled back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation without skipping a beat. His best season came back in 2018 when he received his first All-Star nod. In 2019, Chicken Strip appeared in 32 games (15 starts) posting a 3.47 ERA (3.47 FIP) to go with 93 strikeouts and only 20 walks. Stripling is deserving of a rotation spot after producing for the club in any and every way he can. This season may be his shot to actually start for the whole season, or he could wind up back in the bullpen as the team’s primary swingman.
It’s tempting to go with Ross Stripling in this situation as he has the experience and a track record of success at the big-league level. However, the Dodgers can easily release the beast in Dustin May and it seems like that may (pun intended) be the likely route they take. Of course, in a crazy season such as this one, anything can take place which should cause a constant shuffling of arms on the roster to keep everyone fresh and healthy. While it’s a real bummer that David Price won’t be apart of the roster this season, the Dodgers have the depth and talent to still win it all.