Opening Day Competition Ongoing For Dodgers’ 5th Starter Job

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The Los Angeles Dodgers significantly bolstered their rotation during the offseason by trading for Tyler Glasnow and signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but they find themselves in need of a fifth starter heading into Opening Day for a second consecutive year.

Last spring, who would be the Dodgers’ fifth starter became a question when Tony Gonsolin sprained his left ankle. This year, the Dodgers are searching for the final piece to their rotation puzzle because of a plan to delay Walker Buehler’s 2024 debut as he faces an innings limit with returning from a second Tommy John surgery.

One of the candidates has been ruled out from the competition as Emmet Sheehan is going to begin the regular season on the 15-day injured list because of falling behind in camp due to right shoulder soreness.

When asked about Michael Grove and Gavin Stone, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said they remain firmly under consideration, as seen on SportsNet LA:

“I think they’re both in the mix. I don’t know who’s going to start that game, but we’re still evaluating. I think they’re both having really good springs.”

Roberts also mentioned Kyle Hurt and Ryan Yarbrough as potential options to round out the Dodgers’ rotation:

“Kyle, he did two innings [Friday]. I think he’s going to do two innings in a couple more days. So he’s in the mix, and obviously we’ve still got Yarbrough if we need him to start. We’ve got options.”

Landon Knack, whom Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said is likely to make his MLB debut, was part of the early competition in spring but already got re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Grove earned a spot in the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation for 2023 due to Ryan Pepiot suffering an oblique/intercostal injury during his final Spring Training start.

Dodgers 5th starter competition

While the Seoul Series begins March 20, the Dodgers only need two true starting pitchers for the international matchup with the San Diego Padres. Domestic Opening Day for the Dodgers is March 28, but they won’t need a fifth starter until April 1, in the series opener against the San Francisco Giants.

Gavin Stone

Stone is taking the mound Sunday afternoon for his third start and fourth overall Cactus League game. He’s impressed thus far with an increase in fastball velocity and sharpness on secondary pitches.

Grove might make a late push, but Stone by all accounts is the frontrunner to win the competition and be part of the Dodgers Opening Day rotation.

Michael Grove

Grove boosted his stock with six strikeouts over 3.1 scoreless innings on Saturday, but he otherwise has largely had an inconsistent spring.

Grove’s best role with the Dodgers may ultimately be in the form of a relief pitcher.

Ryan Yarbrough

Although Yarbrough has plenty of experience with starting games, the Dodgers value his versatility and Roberts recently said they envision a swingman role as being best for the left-hander.

Kyle Hurt

Hurt presumably faces the longest odds of being named the Dodgers’ fifth starter. The right-hander did make his MLB debut last year, but that was out of the bullpen.

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