Hyun-Jin Ryu injury exposes Dodgers' lack of depth in rotation

Hyun-Jin Ryu injury exposes Dodgers' lack of depth in rotation
Hyun-Jin Ryu throws against the San Diego Padres during a spring training game on March 12. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

And this is why you should be just a tad nervous about the Dodgers' rotation.

Which is not to say it won’t be phenomenal. It absolutely could be with some luck. Any rotation that leads off with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke figures to be formidable. Yet it is a fragile staff, as all staffs are to some extent, it’s just seems more pronounced with this five-man group.

That puts more emphasis on the collection of "potential starters" the Dodgers have assembled behind them, because you can bet your favorite Sandy Koufax bobblehead that someone will head to the disabled list this season. Very likely, it appears, even before the season begins.

The Dodgers shut down Hyun-Jin Ryu on Friday with a sore shoulder, the same problem that sidelined him twice last season. This reoccurrence is a serious concern, regardless of how the Dodgers have tempered it with hopes he could be ready to start the season. He received an anti-inflammatory injection and is officially down for three days.


Yet there are only a little more than two weeks left before the season opens, which hardly appears enough time to build Ryu's arm strength up to join the rotation. He's thrown only five innings all spring, already getting a delayed start because of a tight back.

Even if the Dodgers don’t need a fifth starter until April 14, and then again until April 25, it should seem clear they are going to have to identify starters to bring in when a regular member of the rotation goes down. And considering Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson’s injury history, it seems much more when than if.

So who is lined up behind the expected rotation? No one you can really count on.

The candidates – Joe Wieland, Erik Bedard, Mike Bolsinger, Chad Gaudin, Dustin McGowan and Juan Nicasio -- have potential but it's uncertain potential.

Wieland, who came to the Dodgers in the trade for Matt Kemp, showed promise this spring (no earned runs in six innings) and could be first in line. Bedard went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.50 WHIP last season for Tampa Bay, Gaudin did not pitch last year because of a neck injury, McGowan was used primarily as a reliever last season for the Blue Jays and Nicasio was signed as a reliever after initially struggling last season as a starter for the Rockies (5-5, 5.92, 1.59).

Not exactly reliable depth, though admittedly that's hard to come by for any team. It's just that the Dodgers need it more than most just because of the obvious injury issues that surround the rotation.

It was inevitable that it would become an issue at some point, they were no doubt hoping it would be later in the season after their "reserves" had been able to better show where they're at in some starts in the minors.

Nervous time even before the opener.