Roberts has rotation decisions to make

Dodgers have six starting pitchers healthy entering break

July 15th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- When it comes to their starting rotation, the Dodgers are wading in what manager Dave Roberts called "uncharted territory" entering the 2018 All-Star break.
Los Angeles has seen several members of its starting rotation, including , Rich Hill, and , spend time on the disabled list this season. Their absences made room for and to emerge as formidable starting options; Stripling was named a 2018 All-Star and Buehler is a candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, though he's made two trips to the DL himself.
Add Alex Wood -- the left-hander who's bounced back after a slow start to the season -- and the Dodgers have seven legitimate starting choices, though Ryu isn't quite ready to return from a left groin strain. 
Roberts deemed it a good problem to have, one the Dodgers haven't tackled yet. The Dodgers are considering a six-man rotation for a stretch of 17 games in 17 days immediately after the break, but there will be an odd man out when they go back to the traditional five-man rotation after that. Roberts and his staff are trying to remain sensitive to the situation, trying to keep the pitchers sharp and stretched out.
"We're obviously very confident with our rotation," Roberts said. "I think there has to be a little bit of -- I don't know if it's necessarily roster manipulation -- but understanding that you have six guys right now essentially healthy [and] another guy in Hyun-Jin Ryu coming back.
"So there's gotta be opportunity for different guys. How we do this as an organization and figure it out, there's gonna have to be some sacrifices from everyone."
Entering Sunday, the Dodgers had posted the second-lowest ERA in the Majors (2.69) since June 29. As their bats have caught fire, their pitching staff has arguably been equally sound.
The only thing certain about how the rotation will configure coming out the break is that Kershaw will remain toward the top. And despite being down at Triple-A Oklahoma City over the break, Buehler will return. The Dodgers have done a good enough job managing his and Stripling's innings that they feel comfortable keeping them in the fold.
Ahead of the Freeway Series this weekend, the Dodgers rearranged their rotation, starting Wood on Saturday with Hill appearing out of the bullpen. It pushed Kershaw's start to Sunday, an outing in which Maeda was made available out of the bullpen. It's unclear whether Hill or Maeda will remain in the bullpen moving forward, but Roberts knows he'll have to decide what's to happen with his staff soon.
"If everything stays status quo, then we're gonna have to have some big conversations," he said. "So right now, I look at it as a good thing. At some point, we're going to reach a crossroads. … Right now, we don't have that problem."
Urias could rejoin Dodgers in 4-6 weeks
Roberts said it's "fair" to believe that left-hander will rejoin the team in four to six weeks.
Urias, who was placed on the DL after undergoing shoulder surgery in February, has been throwing to hitters at the Dodgers' Spring Training facility and is "progressing very nicely," per Roberts.
Turner available to hit Sunday
(hip) was available to pinch-hit in Sunday's series finale. According to Roberts, the third baseman was running at "70 percent" but was confident in swinging.
"We could use him," Roberts said. "Whether I chose to or not [we'll see]. But each day he's progressing, he's feeling better. So we'll see how the game dictates, but J.T. will be available."