Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers just love to speculate about player depth, seemingly more than any other fan base across the majors.
Los Angeles is probably deeper than any other club in the big leagues with position players, as they virtually didn’t miss a beat when Corey Seager tested free agency and landed a job with the Texas Rangers. The team’s position player depth speaks volumes when a player like Chris Taylor isn’t guaranteed a spot on the lineup card every night, even though skipper Dave Roberts says he much prefers to use CT in a flexible utility role.
However, the starting pitching rotation is an entirely different animal — something we’ve been discussing in-depth ever since Max Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million deal with the Mets before the beginning of the winter lockout.
Trevor Bauer Fallout
Regardless, there was big news on Friday that affected the rotation when the league announced that pitcher Trevor Bauer was being dealt a full, two-season suspension, potentially taking the Dodgers off the hook for his salary. Of course, there is the appeal process, but even if it’s reduced, it’s probably safe to say that Bauer won’t be throwing a pitch anytime in 2022.
For so long, many fans wondered whether Bauer would even face a punishment at all, leading some to believe he could impact the 2022 Los Angeles rotation at some point, in effect providing an upgrade like an addition at the trade deadline. Unless his suspension is thrown out completely by the arbitrator — which is unlikely — Bauer is out of the Dodger picture this year.
From the beginning of spring training, we anticipated that Walker Buehler and Julio Urias would be the rotation workhorses, as uncertainty surrounding injuries loomed over Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin. We were hoping that Andrew Heaney could eat some innings, although many of us thought before the season began that he’d get bumped for ineffectiveness before getting put on the shelf for any injury.
Still, knowing that Heaney has some decent stuff to contribute will certainly be valuable as the season progresses.
With Bauer out of the picture, there’s no reason for the Dodgers to panic and immediately deal for a steady arm that can contribute some quality innings. As a matter of fact, we all know how flexible Andrew Friedman is and how he often likes to plan for worst case scenarios.
Digging for Starting Pitching Depth
The Dodgers have plenty of starting pitching depth, but to say that depth is high-quality would be a stretch.
We’ve talked about Dustin May’s potential return sometime after the All-Star break, and despite organizational rumblings of him contributing as a reliver, there’s still a chance he could slide into the rotation. Conceivably, the same applies for Jimmy Nelson, Danny Duffy and David Price, although it just feels that Price has already seen his final days as a starter.
Tyler Anderson has contributed excellently as a long man.
As far as fringe depth goes, Mitch White and Andre Jackson are at the top of the list. White probably couldn’t contribute anything lengthy on a given night in a starting role because he isn’t stretched out to eat innings. Caleb Ferguson hasn’t started a game since early in 2020.
While it’s rare these days that a starting pitcher can last the entire season without a minimal stint on the injured list — especially in the Friedman regime — we can hope the arms of Kershaw and Gonsolin stay strong. Paired with a healthy Buehler and Urias, consistency from Kersh and Gonsolin make for an incredibly effective rotation.
Speaking of Kershaw, he’ll take the mound on Saturday at Dodger Stadium and try to eclipse Don Sutton’s franchise strikeout record as his club attempts to defeat the Tigers for the second straight game.