Aside from the big Charlie Culberson trade with the Braves, which essentially moved $47 million in payroll and opened up three roster spots, the Dodgers have been pretty quiet so far this winter. On Thursday, Dennis took a an early look at what the rotation in Oklahoma City might be. With the movement of Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy to the Braves, where does that leave the big league rotation?
Clayton Kershaw of course will once again be the ace and anchor the starting rotation for the Dodgers. Let’s just hope that this year he doesn’t incur any more injuries to his back. Kershaw has spent significant time over the last few seasons on the disabled list due to his back issues, pitching over 200 innings once in the last four seasons. While we all hope for a full heathy season from our star, it would be prudent not to blindly expect that from here on out.
The No. 2 starter would most likely be Rich Hill. Another pitcher that the Dodgers may not be able to count on for the entire season, as he has dealt with his own health issues, mainly with blisters. Last year did see him with the most innings he’s pitched in awhile though, with 135-2/3. He is also getting up there in age, as he will turn 38 when the season starts.
Kenta Maeda should see a return to the Dodgers starting rotation after a dominant showing in the playoffs in a relief roll. Maeda only pitches 134-1/3 innings last season, down from 175-2/3 when he first joined the Dodgers from Japan in 2016. He will have to build himself back up to be able to pitch at length. This shouldn’t be an issue though as he much prefers to be a starter over being a reliever.
One pitcher that we all can hope will revisit his 2016 dominance, at least during the first half of the season, is Alex Wood. The lefty started the season 11-0 and ending he season at 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA, earning himself his first All-Star appearance. He also made a trip to the DL, albeit a short stint for inflammation in his shoulder. A healthy repeat for Wood bodes well for the Dodgers.
After those four, the fifth spot is a little up in the air. Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be healthy enough to return full time to the rotation? Julio Urias is set to return from Tommy John surgery, but that is not until at least mid-summer. Will the Dodgers decide to start Walker Buehler more, or leave him in TripleA? What about Ross Stripling? Will he crack the rotation? None of these right now are a perfect option. And with the track record Dodger pitchers have, I think it would behoove the front office to go out and acquire at least one more starting pitcher.
The Dodgers are still said to be in talks with Yu Darvish to have him return to Los Angeles. Darvish shot down rumors on Twitter that he was close to signing with the Chicago Cubs. I think more time under the tutelage of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt could help Darvish with his issues of tipping his pitches.
The most intriguing pitcher for Dodger fans that I’ve seen has to be Chris Archer from Tampa Bay. The 29-year-old righty has consistently given around 200 innings over the last four seasons, and has been a steady, reliable starter. He also has a great personality, and should fit in just fine with this current roster. It would take a sacrificial trade to acquire him, and he has two years left on his contract with a team option for two more seasons after that. The Rays just traded away their franchise player Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants, so maybe they would be also willing to trade Archer for prospects to rebuild their organization.
Regardless of who the No. 5 pitcher is, the Dodgers should seek one more established starter. They have options in Triple-A for sure, but with the way pitchers seem to go on the DL more often, (whether or not you think the front office is using the DL to their advantage), at least one more starter could be key to the overall health of the rotation. Who would you like to see the Dodgers add to their starting rotation?
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