MARCH 29: Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets that McCarthy has, indeed, been tabbed for the final spot in the rotation. Roberts told the L.A. media today that McCarthy will start the fourth game of the season in Los Angeles, with Ryu getting the nod in Colorado in the following contest. Those decisions land Wood in the bullpen, though certainly, given the injury concerns that constantly surround McCarthy, Ryu and the currently-injured Scott Kazmir, Wood could find himself with a rotation opportunity at some point during the season.
McCullough further tweets that Stripling will not be going to Triple-A but will instead begin the season in long relief. The Dodgers will trot out a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, McCarthy and Ryu with Kenley Jansen, Sergio Romo, Grant Dayton, Luis Avilan, Chris Hatcher, Wood and Stripling in the relief corps.
MARCH 27: The Dodgers will utilize lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu out of the rotation when camp breaks, manager Dave Roberts told reporters including Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). That leaves Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood still battling for the fifth and final rotation job, though both will end up on the MLB roster.
It’s not altogether surprising at this point to hear that Ryu will join the staff, though it’s certainly promising news that the Dodgers think he’s ready to handle the load. He seemingly locked the job up with his outing today, which extended his spring stat line to 14 innings of 2.57 ERA ball, over which he racked up a dozen strikeouts with just one walk.
Ryu, who just turned 30, has basically missed all of the past two seasons with arm issues. And it is certainly an open question whether he can stay healthy for the long haul. But the upside is obvious — he posted a 3.17 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 over 344 innings from 2013-14 — and there’s little reason not to hand him the ball and see what happens with two years and $14MM left on his contract.
After all, the Dodgers are clearly set up to get what they can out of health risks such as Ryu while covering when the need arises. In this case, one of McCarthy and Wood will be on hand in the bullpen. And while the news seemingly tickets Ross Stripling for Triple-A, he’ll be among the arms ready to step into the rotation. Los Angeles has already stashed a not-so-secret weapon there in outstanding youngster Julio Urias.