Dan Haren is one answer to the Los Angeles Dodgers problems when it comes to filling out the end of their starting rotation. The rotation’s one through three spots are more than impressive with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu leading the way, but the team knew they needed to add depth heading into the off-season.
Last November, the Dodgers signed Haren to a one-year deal worth $10 million and he can earn another $3 million with different incentives built into his contract. If he were to pitch 180 innings, he’d vest a player option for 2015. A huge reason why Haren was drawn to the Dodgers was because he wanted to come back to Los Angeles, allowing him to be closer to his family who stayed in California while the right-handed pitcher played last season with the Washington Nationals.
With Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley both coming off of major season-ending surgeries the decision to sign Haren stabilizes the back end of the rotation. While Beckett is looking like he’ll be the choice as the fifth starter to start the season, Billingsley isn’t expected to come back until May or June and question marks still remain as to whether or not he can return to the starter he was before Tommy John surgery.
The 33-year-old veteran was considered a top-of-the-rotation guy before he started to breakdown in 2012, but Haren will be fourth starter for the Dodgers to start the season. From 2007 to 2011, he posted an impressive 3.33 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP, striking out an average 8.1 batters per 9 innings. His 2012 season proved to be full of disappointing injuries and this would continue on into the 2013 season. The right-hander is coming off one of his more disappointing seasons with the Washington Nationals last year. Dealing with some right shoulder inflammation half way through the season, Haren went 10-14 in a total of 30 starts with a 4.67 ERA.
What Dodgers fans should find promising was that the worst of Haren’s 2013 performance came during the first half of the season. In his final 15 starts with the Nationals presumably after his shoulder inflammation was under control, he had a 3.29 ERA with 84 strikeouts. His spring training numbers so far should also be seen as impressive. In his most recent start on Thursday against his former Angels squad, the right-hander pitched four complete innings with three strikeouts. In the two games he has starting during spring training thus far, Haren has an overall 1.50 ERA.
The biggest key to Haren’s success in this Dodgers starting pitching rotation is entirely dependent on the veteran’s ability to stay healthy and the starter claims that he is feeling like his old self. He’s proven that he can be effective when healthy and the worst numbers of his career occurred when he was battling injuries. Judging from his ability to bounce back towards the end of last season and most recent spring training start, the right-hander has proven that he can be resilient when coming back from injuries. As long as Haren can remain healthy, the Dodgers will certainly have security in their number one through four spots in their rotation.
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