It’s been a happy, yet rough week for the Dodgers. On Thursday, Clayton Kershaw tossed the first pitch to Yasmani Grandal, marking the official commencement of the 2018 season. Since then, we have seen some remarkable pitching performances, as well as some we wish could be erased, or redone.
As a whole, there are a number of factors which will determine how the starting rotation of the Dodgers stacks up to others around baseball as the 2018 campaign progresses. First and foremost, good health is critical, while overall stamina and endurance will also play key roles in the team’s prosperity. The presence of resident ace Clayton Kershaw probably warrants a Top 15 MLB ranking in itself, yet without the luxury of a true No. 2 starter, the Dodgers slide somewhere right in the middle of the Top 10, at least in the eyes of most informed fans.
This year feels slightly different in one area for the Dodgers. In the last couple years, the Dodgers have had an excess of starting pitchers. Not necessarily pitchers that were top-of-the-line, but pitchers they thought maybe could help them throughout the year. They knew they had issues, and they were just hoping for the best. But this year there doesn’t seem to be a true excess of pitching waiting in the wings to step up if one or two pitchers happen to go down.
All offseason, we have heard rumors upon rumors about the top two free agent starters; Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. One of those starters, Arrieta, is still unsigned with spring training now officially underway. The other, Darvish, is headed to Arrieta’s former team, the Chicago Cubs.
After one of the saddest and longest winters ever for Dodgers fans, the end is finally here. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow to Camelback Ranch. Although many of us are still hungover from what might have been, most of us can’t help but get excited about what might be waiting for us during the upcoming season.
Much time has been spent by many bloggers writing about whether the Dodgers should re-sign Yu Darvish, myself included. Los Angeles remains tops on the wish list of places that Darvish would like to pitch for, and that is shown in that he has chosen not to sign with another team.
When the Dodgers began their regular season campaign last year, starting pitching was at such a premium that the best five pitchers on the club weren’t even in the Opening Day rotation. Lefty phenom Julio Urias began the year in extended spring training in an effort to conserve innings, while southpaw Alex Wood was forced to start his year in the big league bullpen. There was also a ton of marginal depth with arms like Brock Stewart and Trevor Oaks on the fringe, and experienced guys like Justin Masterson, Wilmer Font, Fabio Castillo and Jair Jurrjens providing depth at Triple-A Oklahoma City. There was even hope for Scott Kazmir to join the major league rotation at some point, once his ailing hip healed and he sharpened his throwing mechanics.
The Dodgers need more starting pitching, it’s as simple as that. Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Rich Hill fit in perfectly with the Dodgers, but if Los Angeles intends to contend in 2018, they need another starter.
While there are plenty of question marks surrounding the impending relief crew for the Dodgers heading into 2018, there are many options for the club to consider for the bullpen as the season approaches. A handful of arms who can contribute as either a starter or a reliever could play into the team’s roster plans, and Brock Stewart is certainly right at the top of that list.
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?