Player Grades! Pitchers (Based on regular season performance)
As the Dodgers had an incredible amount of production from an expansive array of players, I have narrowed down those receiving grades to the players on the NLDS Roster, but I've added Tony Gonsolin (who arguably could've had a spot), Alex Verdugo (whose back injury kept him out of the playoffs), and Austin Barnes (who had a significant amount of playing time in the regular season). Today, I'll be grading the pitching staff that led all of MLB in many categories, including ERA and BAA.
Pedro Baez: A. Baez followed up a strong 2018 with an excellent 2019, finishing the season with a 3.10 ERA and 1 save.
Walker Buehler: A-. Buehler had an incredibly dominant 2019, but found less consistency than in his rookie year, putting up a 3.26 ERA as opposed to 2.62 ERA in 2018. While he showed flashes of brilliance and perfection beyond anything he displayed in 2018, he failed to find consistent dominance and success in 2019, often following up 2 stellar starts with a mediocre one.
Rich Hill: B. Hill was, per usual, incredibly effective when healthy. He posted a 2.45 ERA in the 13 games he pitched, but dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season, although he did provide some magical moments with his bat and then subsequently on the base paths.
Kenley Jansen: C. Jansen had the worst year of his career in 2019, earning a 3.71 ERA with 8 blown saves. Jansen's problems ever since Marwin Gonzalez homered off him in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series have only been magnified in the time since. Incredibly prone to the home run and lacking his previous dominance, Jansen can, unfortunately, no longer be relied upon to guarantee a win in the ninth inning.
Joe Kelly: B. This is an interesting one. For the first part of the season, Kelly was absolutely atrocious, but from the middle of May until he got hurt in early September, he was incredibly dominant, albeit a few blips here and there. Hopefully in 2020 the Dodgers will be able to harness Kelly's potential and electric fastball into consistent success.
Clayton Kershaw: A-. Postseason numbers/incidents have no bearing on these grades. Kershaw had an excellent regular by the measure of any pitcher other than himself, posting a 3.03 ERA and completing 6 innings in his first 23 starts in 2019, providing a consistent presence in the rotation.
Adam Kolarek: A+. Kolarek was incredibly effective in his LOOGY role after the Dodgers snagged him from the Rays, performing to a 0.77 in 11.2 innings for the Dodgers in the second half of the season.
Kenta Maeda: B. Maeda would have streaks of great starts and show signs of being able to throw 7 scoreless innings, but these outings were too few and far between to neutralize the starts in which he would pitch 5 or 6 innings and give up 3 or 4 runs. Maeda did, however, have a successful transition into the bullpen and ended 2019 with a 4.04 ERA.
Dustin May: A-. Gingergaard showed tremendous potential in both the rotation and the bullpen in his short time in the big leagues, posting a 3.63 ERA in 34.2 innings. While May would sometimes work himself into jams and set up big innings for rival offenses, he showed many signs of future dominance and is already a fan favorite in Los Angeles due to his flaming mane of hair.
Hyun-Jin Ryu: A+. Were it not for 3 starts in August that marred his ERA, Ryu likely would have run away with the Cy Young award. Instead, he settled for second place with an MLB best 2.32 ERA in 182.2 innings. Ryu demonstrated a mastery of inducing soft contact from opponents and keeping the ball on the ground during a year in which that was nearly impossible.
Ross Stripling: A-. Chicken Strip can do it all, from analyzing the stock market, to starting his own podcast (The Big Swing), continuing to pitching very effectively. Stripling followed up his All Star 2018 campaign with a very solid 3.47 ERA (and FIP interestingly enough) in 90.2 innings as a swing (pun intended?) man.
Julio Urias: C. Were his pitching the only consideration, Urias might be sitting around a B+, but his domestic violence suspension cannot be ignored, as he missed 25 games due to an incident, that, while appearing relatively minor, likely cost him a spot in the playoff rotation. When on the field though, Urias was usually exceptional, carving through opposing lineups with ease during his signature 3-inning stints, posting a 2.49 ERA in 79.2 innings.
Tony Gonsolin: A-. After surviving a brutal debut in Chase Field, Gonsolin bounced back and finished 2019 in fabulous fashion (yes, including his hair). He pitched to a 2.93 ERA in 40 innings as a started and a reliever and was just cut from the postseason roster. The highlight of his season was most likely his start against the Yankees during Players Weekend, during which he held the incredibly potent Yankees lineup to 1 run over 5 innings and singled of his hero, CC Sabathia.