Hyun-jin Ryu is set to return as soon as next week from the 15-day DL, if Ryu does not need to go on a rehab assignment in the minors. When Ryu returns who is the odd man out? The answer is utility infielder Chone Figgins. Why not Paul Maholm, you ask? A couple of reasons why it’s not Maholm who loses his spot.
One, Maholm was originally signed to pitch out of the bullpen as the long reliever with making a spot start here and there. Maholm was signed a day before spring training camp was officially opened. Maholm was then thrusted into the starting rotation when Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw went down with an injury at the start of the season. The plan was when Kershaw comes back, Maholm moves over to the bullpen with someone else getting sent down to the minors. That plan didn’t happen as Ryu had to get put on the DL because of left shoulder soreness.
Two, Maholm has a major league deal with the Dodgers, unlike Figgins, who has a cheap major league contract. Figgins is the cheaper option to send down to Triple-A. Figgins could use the demotion as a chance to catch up on his playing time after he sat out all of last season. With Figgins sent down and Ryu back in the rotation, the Dodgers can finally use Maholm out of the bullpen and stick to the original plan to use him as a long reliever and make spot starts down the line. Maholm gives the Dodgers an needed extra arm in the bullpen.
I believe with Ryu coming back, the Dodgers are finally going to give the bullpen a breather as the Dodgers will have their starting five healthy. The starting five will pitch deep into the 7th innings consistently. The Dodgers have great reliable options in Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Ryu. The Dodgers also have other options in Dan Haren and Josh Beckett. Haren and Beckett have stepped up big for the Dodgers while Kershaw and Ryu were on the DL. Haren is doing what the Dodgers expected him to do when they signed him: throw at least six quality innings every start. Beckett has been a surprise to many Dodgers fans who did not know what to expect from Beckett after missing the 2013 season with a nerve injury. Beckett finally was healthy at the start of spring training and came in pitching well. When the season started, Beckett has been one of the Dodgers’ most reliable starters this year. Beckett is currently, 1-1 with an ERA of 2.38, having just won his first start on Tuesday against the Marlins for the first time since 2012.
With all of the starting five back, the Dodgers will finally get their focus back on track and will start a nice streak of winning ball games. The Dodgers will finally be a consistent winning team once the team is all put together. I believe the Dodgers are turning it around as you saw in the Dodgers-Marlins series. The Dodgers won two out of three games in the series, with the third game a little step back as Maholm was hit hard last night. I believe that once Ryu comes back, he will be returning with the offense starting to hit well consistently and is finally producing enough offense for starters to pitch deep into games. With the offense ready to go when Ryu returns, let the real competition begin!