While many of the club’s current troubles can probably be attributed to the lack of offensive consistency, many fans of the Dodgers are beginning to have concerns about the overall quality of the starting rotation, especially in the absence of southpaw Alex Wood.
With a very respectable ERA of 3.55, as a group the Dodgers’ starting crew still ranks second in the National League. However, the primary problem with the rotation is that outside of staff ace Clayton Kershaw, the starters are not providing any length at all. With Kersh’s numbers included, the crew is averaging a dismal 5.54 innings per start, but with CK out of the picture, the rotation is averaging a meager 4.98 frames per start. And that’s no exaggeration.
Yet even beyond the numbers, the rotation as a whole may be a cause for some concern. While we’ve been saying all year that the lack of a true No. 2 could be the difference between an average rotation and a great one, the numbers are slowly beginning to support that theory — again, at least while Wood is on the shelf. Veteran lefty Rich Hill is throwing okay, but by no means has his 4.15 ERA warranted a top-of-the-rotation billing. And despite an admirable first third of the season from righty Brandon McCarthy, the possibilities of a bum knee and a developing blister don’t provide much of a positive outlook moving forward.
Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s durability has certainly been a surprise to many followers of the club, yet his ERA is still north of 4.00, and may be better suited for the bullpen, based on his success just a few weeks back. Kenta Maeda‘s ERA is now a whopping 5.16, and 20-year-old Julio Urias is still hanging out at Oklahoma City trying to sharpen his control.
There’s no question that it’s entirely too early to be thinking about the playoffs, yet right around the seven-week mark, the 2017 trade deadline is sneaking up, and the Dodgers could be considering some kind of move to bolster the rotation. In the preseason, many pundits believed that the trio of CK, Hill and Urias could carry the team through October, but that definitely doesn’t appear to be the case right now. A healthy Wood will surely be a huge boost later in the season, but whether his skills will be enough to form a pennant-worthy rotation remain to be seen. Besides, it is only June, and it’s possible that the starting crew may have a completely different look a few months from now. Still, as July approaches, many fans are beginning to wonder if the front office crew may be envisioning a potential blockbuster towards the end of next month.
That being said, in hopes of further improving the level of player talent, the amount of resources that Andrew Friedman and his troops have available to deal in the future is quite plentiful. Many think that there aren’t many holes at all in the Dodgers’ current roster, yet depending on the stance of the club when the trade deadline approaches, a few needs may be visible when visualizing a complete squad heading into the 2017 postseason, especially in the starting pitching department.
In the end, as deep and complete as this Dodgers squad looks right now, particularly when everyone’s healthy, just imagine the layout of the team with the addition of a bona fide, top-of-the-rotation arm to compliment Kershaw.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)