Mike Bolsinger has firm grasp of fifth starter spot for Dodgers

With Ross Stripling and Jose De Leon getting optioned and reassigned, respectively, yesterday, the fifth starter race is down to Brandon Beachy, Mike Bolsinger and Zach Lee. Those three make the most sense, but not in that order.

Dave Roberts said his rotation is setting up as follows:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Scott Kazmir
  3. Kenta Maeda
  4. Alex Wood

And really, what other way could it be? Bolsinger is the odds-on favorite to land the job. He was a pleasant surprise last season, as we (Daniel) have written about here many times. While spring training stats are virtually meaningless, his performance so far has been solid: 9 innings pitched, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. FanGraphs has him projected at a 3.82 ERA, 3.73 FIP and 8.2 K/9. If he puts up those numbers in however many innings he ends up throwing, the Dodgers will take that without a second thought. It’s really going to depend on how his curveball works for him. When it’s on, he’s pretty good. When it isn’t, he’s pretty bad. When you don’t have plus-stuff or more than 2 1/2 pitches, everything has to work well all the time.

As for the No. 6 and 7 spots, it probably shakes out as Beachy then Lee, but I can see a scenario in which Lee gets the call before Beachy. I’m one of the high guys on Lee (if you can call No. 17 on my top 100 “high”) and he has shown glimpses in the past. He’s been decent in the spring so far, allowing four runs in eight innings (three of which came off one swing of the bat of Geovany Soto). He is never going to be the top-of-the-rotation many thought he might be coming out of high school, but he has a chance to be a guy who hangs around as a back-end starter/swingman.

I’d very much like Beachy to get back to the pitcher he was in Atlanta, but that happening is as probable as Lee becoming Greg Maddux-lite. Side note: How did Beachy not get any Rookie of the Year votes in 2011? Seriously, look at the results. He wasn’t particularly great in his first season following two Tommy John surgeries, but the Dodgers thought enough of him to give him a 1+1 deal last winter and a contract that could earn him as much as $4.25 million this season.

Stripling could be a guy who gets a look later in the season. If he weren’t coming off Tommy John himself, he’d probably already have this job locked up (oh, and he would have debuted last season). He was really good in his six spring innings (so far): 1 hit, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. A taste of Triple-A will do him lot of good, though.

This is clearly Bolsinger’s job to lose. The way he has pitched so far, I’m guessing he won’t let that happen. The pitching depth is going to be tested early and possibly often. Let’s just hope it isn’t stretched too thin … you know, before a midseason trade for Chris Sale or something.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.