WASHINGTON -- Before the Dodgers took the field in Spring Training, one area of the roster they felt particularly comfortable with was their starting pitching depth. That depth has been tested throughout the season, with Dustin May lost for the season and Tony Gonsolin missing two months.
It’s being tested yet again.
While Trevor Bauer remains on administrative leave as Major League Baseball continues its investigation into sexual assault allegations, the Dodgers will have to figure out how they’re going to replace the right-hander in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Bauer was scheduled to start on Sunday and will certainly not be available to pitch next weekend against the D-backs. That would get the Dodgers into the All-Star break and they can reassess. But for now, they have to make a decision.
The most logical choice for the Dodgers would be to go with left-hander David Price. The veteran has been a starter his entire career and has been solid out of the bullpen this season. Price competed for the fifth spot in the rotation during Spring Training, but ultimately lost out to May. As obvious as the choice seems to be, the Dodgers haven’t quite decided what they’re going to do.
But one thing that is certain is that Price is ready to do whatever manager Dave Roberts asks him to do.
“If they want me to start then yeah, that’s an opportunity that I’ll take,” Price said. “But the Dodgers always have a plan. I’m sure they have four or five plans at this point. I’m sure they have a lot of different things they’ve thought about doing over the next however many days we have until the All-Star break. If that’s me starting, then I’ll start.”
Price said he does miss starting, but has also enjoyed his time in the bullpen this season. He also doesn’t believe building up during the season would be too difficult, which is one of the hesitations the Dodgers have hinted at.
“I’ve never done it before but I mean, the way my arm has responded as a reliever, I think that can be a little bit more taxing than being a starter,” Price said. “It could be more challenging than getting ready to pitch every five days and stuff like that. So, my arm has responded really well and I’ve felt good.”
If Price is the option for the Dodgers, he can theoretically pitch about two innings on Sunday. He could go up to three or four innings in his next start. That would put him on pace to be close to fully built up in about a month.
“I just think it’s more of David is willing to do whatever we ask,” Roberts said. “All of it is contingent on how he’s throwing the baseball and how he’s feeling.
If starting and building Price up isn’t the plan, however, the Dodgers do have some other unproven options.
They could decide to continue with bullpen games until Bauer’s situation is resolved one way or another. Los Angeles could also lean on young pitchers such as Edwin Uceta, who is expected to be called up on Sunday, Mitch White or top pitching prospect Josiah Gray. In Gray's case, though, his buildup could take even longer as he continues to rehab a right shoulder impingement that has held him out for two months.
The Dodgers have a couple of plans. They’ll have to decide on one of them.