Right-handers Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are shifting to the bullpen for the time being, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday. The announcement follows news that closer Kenley Jansen is expected to be sidelined through August 20, if not longer, as he monitors an irregular heartbeat. Jansen is just one of half-a-dozen relievers to hit the disabled list over the last two months, making Sunday’s move a necessary one as starting pitchers Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu prepare to retake the mound in the next week or so.
Stripling, 28, should be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Tuesday evening. The righty has seen impressive results in his first All-Star season with the team; he posted an 8-3 record in 17 starts and delivered a combined 2.62 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 through 110 innings out of the rotation and bullpen. Per Roberts’ comments, he’s likely to return to the rotation before the season ends, provided they can bolster the ‘pen with help from other potential starters-turned-relievers like Julio Urias.
Maeda, on the other hand, appears to be headed for a full-time role in relief. The 30-year-old right-hander has had limited exposure in the bullpen this season, pitching to a 7-7 record in 20 starts with a solid 3.80 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 10.7 SO/9 in 109 innings out of the rotation and ‘pen. Still, the decision to convert him to a relief pitcher isn’t a sign of demotion, only a necessary and creative restructuring of a rotation that currently ranks 11th-best in the majors. Maeda will likely be available to pitch by Wednesday’s series finale against the Giants.
Wednesday’s game will also feature southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, who appears ready to resume his role in the rotation after rehabbing a groin strain over the last three months. Prior to his stint on the disabled list, Ryu turned in a 3-0 record in six starts with a sharp 2.12 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 10.9 SO/9 across 29 2/3 innings. He’ll go toe-to-toe with Giants left-hander Derek Holland as the Dodgers close out their homestand.