Dodgers mailbag: What will the rotation look like in 2017?

Rich Hill is scheduled to start of the Dodgers in a the decisive Game 5 of a National League division series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Rich Hill is scheduled to start of the Dodgers in a the decisive Game 5 of a National League division series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers are 77-60. That translates to a 91-win pace. They holds a four-game lead over the San Francisco Giants, a proud club in the midst of a second-half free fall. The group smashed former Dodger Zack Greinke on Monday evening to delight the crowd at Dodger Stadium. Later this week, Clayton Kershaw is expected to pitch for the first time since late June.

Yes, things are looking up. But there are still plenty of questions about this team. As always, you can send them to me on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.

That word you just used. I’m not familiar with it. You called it a “rotation,” is that right? Not sure what it means, exactly. Am I pronouncing it right?

I can’t project who will pitch next week for the Dodgers, but, sure, let’s give 2017 a try. Here goes:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Rich Hill
  3. Kenta Maeda
  4. Scott Kazmir
  5. Brandon McCarthy

I am going to go out on a limb and say the Dodgers re-sign Rich Hill. I feel relatively confident this will happen, even though betting on a certain team signing a certain player in free agency is always a losing proposition. But the Dodgers have liked Hill for a while, he has been quite good for them in his two starts and he should be relatively affordable.

After that, let’s stick with players already inside the organization. There is a good chance that Ross Stripling, Alex Wood, Julio Urias and Jose De Leon will make a pile of starts for the team next year. But the Dodgers will want to keep Urias’ innings in check, Wood is coming back from a elbow issue and De Leon is likely to start in the minors. I’m curious to see what the team will do with Stripling. But I’ll pick the veterans for the Opening Day rotation, while acknowledging that the composition of the group will change plenty as the year goes on.

Julio Urias will likely be capped around 150 to 160 innings next season. He may start the year in extended spring training, so he can contribute to the playoff race in September and October.

There is, indeed, a 40-man logjam, which is what delayed the arrival of Jose De Leon. Brandon McCarthy isn’t an issue, because he is only on the 15-day disabled list. Hyun-Jin Ryu is exceedingly unlikely to pitch this season. So the Dodgers need to clear three spots for Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier and Alex Wood. It can be done.

The people demand more Tolesy!

It’s a tough spot for Andrew Toles. It’s hard to argue that he is a better player than Joc Pederson or Josh Reddick (even after Reddick’s putrid August), so he won’t see steady time as a replacement for either of those left-handed hitters. And Dave Roberts likes using Howie Kendrick in left field to provide right-handed balance for the lineup. So Toles will continue to contribute off the bench and in the occasional start. He’s been quite useful in that role thus far.

I believe Jose De Leon took the spot vacated by catcher Shawn Zarraga’s outright to the minors.


No, Joe Blanton will not receive the $17-million qualifying offer.

But, yes, he would accept if, theoretically, it was offered.

Josh Reddick’s time with the Dodgers is drawing to a close because he is a free agent, and the team is unlikely to re-sign him. While a healthy Andre Ethier might be considered an upgrade, Ethier is not expected to perform at 100% capacity. So Reddick is still going to see plenty of time in the field and at the plate.

The Dodgers would not receive free-agent compensation for either Rich Hill or Josh Reddick. When the CBA was revised a few years ago, a provision was added that forbids teams from turning players traded during the season into draft-pick compensation. That was designed to prevent teams from acquiring players solely for the purpose of trying to hoard picks.

Can I get back to you with an answer in two months?

Vin Scully will celebrate his 89th birthday in November. I think that’s the main reason for his retirement.

All of the baseball writers on our staff have a healthy knowledge of sabermetric thought. Very few readers do. There is little point using advanced statistics like wOBA, SIERA and RngR when most of the audience for the story does not understand the context or the content. Our job as reporters is to inform and entertain, not bore the pants off the overwhelming majority of the people willing to pay money for our product.

That’s just one reporter’s opinion. I imagine Dylan Hernandez’s answer would be, “Save it, nerd.”

I don’t have any answer, but I do want to point out that Odell Beckham was the tailback on the Marshall Mavericks from Buzz Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights.” His son, Odell Jr., is a better football player, but he’s never run over Stan Wilkins.

It is “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam. No one asked, but my favorite Pearl Jam song is “Release.”

Joseph, you have learned the No. 1 rule of being a wrestling fan: The entire point of watching wrestling is being annoyed with wrestling.

It has to be the Ultimate Warrior’s return in 1992. The parallels are uncanny. A physical specimen bursts onto the scene and becomes a superstar overnight. The crowds love him even though he rubs some of his colleagues the wrong way. His technical prowess looks limited at times, but he overcomes his deficiencies with his jaw-dropping athleticism and outrageous enthusiasm.

But after his employers designate him as the new face of the company, he fails to meet expectations and his performance suffers. After a series of run-ins with management, he exits the stage and heads into the wilderness. Lord knows how the Warrior spent his time away from the ring, but Yasiel Puig performed admirably in the minors.

So you can consider Puig’s home run the other day against San Diego as the equivalent of the Warrior’s return at Wrestlemania VIII. The Dodgers would prefer Puig’s second act goes better than the Warrior’s.


Dodgers blast Zack Greinke, win 10-2

Dodgers prospect Jose De Leon will have to wait for next opportunity

Dodgers win in debut of Jose De Leon, who lasts six innings