ESPN.com baseball writer Buster Olney is currently writing pieces of “Top-10” units in baseball as the off-season starts to wind down. Yesterday, Olney ranked the top-10 lineups in baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers weren’t included on that list.
With a lineup that features Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and a possibly healthy Matt Kemp, the Dodgers lineup could be scary good. Regardless, Olney took to ranking the top-10 rotations in baseball this morning and the Dodgers came in ranked second behind the Detroit Tigers:
They already have the reigning Best Pitcher On The Planet, in Clayton Kershaw — who already has two Cy Young Awards and a second-place finish — as well as Zack Greinke, who ranked fourth in ERA after the All-Star break. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a strong No. 3, posting an ERA+ of 119 in his first 30 starts in the big leagues, and in the final two spots in their rotation, the Dodgers’ current plans are for Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley and Stephen Fife to carry the load, one way or another. But as we’ve seen with the Dodgers, plans can change quickly.
That change could be the signing of Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, who was officially made available to major league clubs yesterday afternoon. His addition would certainly give the Dodgers the best rotation in baseball without a doubt as they’d feature three starters who could potentially be number ones for several teams.
Still, Kershaw and Greinke lead the way and Ryu exceeded expectations in his rookie season out of the number three spot in the rotation. Haren figures to slot in behind the top-3 and the hope is his return to the West Coast will let him pitch like he did in the second half of last year.
For the final spot in the rotation, Beckett is currently penciled in the rotation, but a strong spring from a prospect like Zach Lee or Ross Stripling could have management thinking twice about sending him out there every fifth day. Not to mention Billingsley will be back by June, but it’s hard for the Dodgers to project where he fits in.
All of this can be for naught if the Dodgers sign Tanaka prior to the January 24 deadline as their rotation would be the best baseball’s seen in quite a long time.
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