Just a few weeks ago, the Dodgers’ starting rotation looked to be a big concern. The off-season had not been kind. Zack Greinke was gone, and the Dodgers had missed out on all the big name free agents like David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Jordon Zimmerman. They had a deal in place with Hisashi Iwakuma, but it fell through after he couldn’t pass the team physical. Many fans were beginning to wonder what kind of starting rotation the Dodgers would be marching out there come next season.
Now, only days later, the Dodgers look to have a deep rotation, with many options at their disposal. We take a closer look here at what kind of starting five (or six) the Dodgers could be throwing out there in 2016. So what changed and was it enough?
Well, it seemed pretty evident that more moves would be made. Within the last few days, they finally have, and for good reason.
Other teams in the NL West like the Diamondbacks and the Giants have upgraded their starting rotation this offseason, and one could argue that the Dodgers have also improved now. The additions of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda may not replace Zack Greinke, but it does provide depth. After some injuries last season, the Dodgers were forced to piece together the back end of the rotation, relying on guys like Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, plus spot starts from others throughout the season.
While those guys did an admirable job filling in, it wasn’t the ideal situation for the Dodgers.
We start at the top of the rotation with the best pitcher in the game: Clayton Kershaw. That’s a pretty good start. The former NL-MVP and 3-time Cy Young Award winner is the rock of the rotation, and the kind of ace that most teams just don’t have. That’s advantage Dodgers against all other 29 teams in the game.
Filling the #2 spot in the rotation may still be the biggest question for the Dodgers rotation. That’s because it was once occupied by the NL ERA leader last year, who took his talents to Arizona. One guy that could possibly fill this role, is Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Ryu is coming off a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season, so some are skeptical that he can return to form. According to his doctor, however, given the type of injury Ryu had (with no rotator cuff issues,) over 80% of pitchers who have that surgery return to play at their previous level. Nothing for certain by any means, but at least there’s good odds that Ryu can make a full recovery.
Some might point to the fact that Ryu has always been the 3rd best starting pitcher on the Dodgers, even when healthy. This is true, but that would be the case for most pitchers who happen to be teammates with Kershaw and Greinke. Looking at Ryu’s stats, however, tell a bigger story. He’s 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his first two seasons. Many teams might love those numbers for their #2 starter. Dodgers’ fans have been spoiled by having a guy like Greinke be your 2nd best pitcher over the last few years, but having someone like Ryu fill that role isn’t so bad.