Right at the tail end of an offensive hiatus last week, we discussed the possibility of the Dodgers having the desire to pursue offensive help before the 2017 trade deadline. Yet as the lumber once again awoke from the dead — powered primarily by the fuel of youngsters Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger — many fans are now turning their attention to the starting rotation, which may ultimately lack the required depth to make a run deep into the postseason this autumn.
The recent news of shoulder problems for 20-year-old lefty Julio Urias doesn’t help much as far as depth goes, and the current trends of Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda aren’t very promising at all. However, both Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy have been surprisingly effective this season when not on the disabled list, and based on current progressions, could combine with staff ace Clayton Kershaw to form a very formidable top three. But is a crew headlined by Kersh, Wood and McCarthy strong enough to succeed in the playoffs, assuming that the Dodgers are headed towards a postseason berth?
Looking around the National League, the Nationals certainly have the most elite rotation with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, and should cruise into the playoffs barring a serious injury epidemic. If the Cubs are able to regain any type of focus, the grouping of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are always dangerous, but could be considered among the best rotations in the league if Kyle Hendricks recovers from tendinitis in his right hand. Inside the NL West, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks are surprising all of baseball with their pitching, and if their respective starters continue to throw strongly, will make some serious noise during the stretch run of the regular season.
If the Dodgers do indeed decide to go shopping for a starting pitching upgrade, there may be a few possibilities which could prove to be beneficial. There’s always the lower to mid-level wave with arms like Alex Cobb, Jason Vargas and Jose Quintana, but common sense says that any of the above three wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over Maeda, Ryu or Hill. For Los Angeles to make a major splash, they’ll definitely have to set their sites on the top wave of the market, and look at several of the potentially available proven stars like Yu Darvish, Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer or Sonny Gray.
Naturally, the price tag for any one of these elite starters would be tremendously outrageous, possibly costing a generous package of the Dodgers’ top rated prospects on the farm. Gray is heading for arbitration next year, and Oakland could be a bit hesitant to pay dearly to keep him around for the long term. Cole would demand a huge return, still having two years of arbitration on his contract before free agency. Being in the final year of his own contract, Darvish would be a mere rental, but would certainly cost a fortune, as he has the skills to come in and immediately reshape any MLB rotation. Archer will still be under team control for quite some time, and could command the highest price tag of the entire group.
In the end, the management crew of the Dodgers will soon be faced with several critical decisions, mainly contemplating the need to sacrifice several prospective stars of the club’s future for a player or two who will conceivably improve the squad right now. Nevertheless, the biggest question lingering at the present juncture is whether or not to pursue any upgrades at all, perhaps deciding to roll the dice without making any major personnel changes.
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