Bleeding Blue: What will the Dodgers starting rotation look like going into October?

Also, a familiar face makes his debut for the Boys in Blue.

Smith and Hurt dap each other up.

“Bleeding Blue” is a column by Diego Ynzunza about the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Welcome to Bleeding Blue, a weekly column covering all things Dodgers. My name is Diego Ynzunza, and I’m a sophomore from Pasadena, California. I attended my first Dodger game two months after I was born and have been a dedicated fan ever since. With the multitude of dedicated Dodger fans in L.A., I’m proud to count myself among their ranks.

The Dodgers are entering into a challenging, but exciting time as a franchise. They have a couple more weeks left in the regular season, hopefully a long postseason run and then the unpredictable offseason where a $500 million man lurks in the shadows. Luckily, we still have some regular-season baseball to discuss, so let’s get into it.

The Dodgers are 5-5 in their past 10 games, after an impressive August performance in which they went 24-5 and cemented themselves as the cream of the crop of the National League West.

The offense slowed down a bit from their dominant ways, but I don’t see it being an issue going into the postseason considering their depth. Kiké Hernández commands lefties, Amed Rosario has postseason experience and the bat of Miguel Rojas has been heating up. Pair that with the top-six of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, JD Martinez, Max Muncy and James Outman, and there is no pitcher in the league that can contain them.

The issue is pitching. What is the rotation going to look like going into October?

I don’t know how much I trust Lance Lynn to make a postseason start. Over his past five starts, he’s delivered a 6.21 ERA and given up nine homers. In what’s been by far the worst year of his career, his main issue has been giving up the long ball. I can’t imagine his leash would be all that long in October, and in an ideal world, he would be used as a long man coming out of the bullpen. But right now, the Dodgers are desperate for reliable starting pitching.

Going into October, the Dodgers’ starting rotation looks to be Clayton Kershaw, Bobby Miller, Lynn and Ryan Pepiot with Ryan Yarbrough available if needed to piggyback or make a start himself. However, each of these options is flawed. Kershaw isn’t healthy. He hasn’t been for about a month now. In his start on September 5 against the Marlins, he registered his slowest fastball ever in the bigs coming in at 86.6 MPH, according to Baseball Savant. Both Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts say that he’s going to pitch through it, but you have to wonder how effective he can be at that reduced velocity.

Miller and Pepiot are both extremely talented and have performed well as of late. Pepiot especially has exercised his command issues and kept the walks down since his previous call-up. The issue is they are both rookies. They have no postseason experience, and I truly believe that if they are forced to start an away postseason game, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to hold in their jitters.

Yarbrough has been a great addition, posting a 3.08 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 24.0 K/BB ratio since his trade to the Dodgers. The only two issues are that he operates at a reduced velocity and can be prone to big blow-ups. He averages 86.9 MPH on his fastball, which is in the bottom 1% of all pitchers in the big leagues, according to Baseball Savant.

We’ll see what happens when the postseason begins, but as of now, I’m weary about the Dodgers starting rotation.

This weekend, the guys go into Seattle for a three-game set against the Mariners. When I think of the Dodgers and Mariners, what comes to mind is the Chris Taylor trade. Taylor was acquired by the Dodgers for pitching prospect Zach Lee in June 2016. Since his acquisition, Taylor has played an integral role in the success of the team. His ability to play multiple positions, as well as his above-average offensive output, have been extremely valuable to a team that prides itself on that skill. Let’s thank Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto for gifting us CT3.

Lastly, I want to give a huge shoutout to Kyle Hurt for making his big-league debut on Tuesday night. Hurt is a product of USC, pitching here for two years. He was drafted in 2020 by the Miami Marlins and was acquired by the Dodgers the following year in the deal that sent Dylan Floro to the Fish.

Hurt features two secondary pitches that are above-average, as well as a fastball that complements the other two very well. He could be a welcome addition to a Dodgers bullpen in need of effective late-inning arms.

Thanks everyone for tuning in to this week’s edition of Bleeding Blue. Let’s hope our Boys in Blue take care of business in Seattle this weekend, and then at home against the Detroit Tigers to begin next week.

“Bleeding Blue” runs every Friday.