Here in this piece I am giving you the all time best starting Dodger rotation. In the modern baseball era, a lot of teams are flying with 6 man rotations. In that spirit, I give you the Dodgers all time 6 man starting rotation. For WAR numbers I used Baseball-Reference.
1) Sandy Koufax
53.2 WAR as a Dodger
Hard to argue with Sandy at the top. Sandy’s list of accolades are insane. An MVP, 3 Cy Young awards, 3 pitching triple crowns, 7 all-star selections, 5 ERA titles, 2 world series MVP’s, and of course what is most remembered–3 world series titles.
His career only last 12 seasons. This monster of a man was already pitching in tremendous pain in the middle of his career, and it got cut short. To accrue that many accolades in a 12 year career is a testament to his legend, greatness, and iron will. Definitely a #1 starter.
2) Clayton Kershaw
62.1 WAR as a Dodger
2018 was a down year and ‘one of his worst’ for the Dodgers leading Pitcher in Career WAR. That’s right, he already leads our organization in CAREER WAR for pitchers. It’s rather telling that a 4.0 WAR season is considered one of a pitchers worst. It’s telling of his expectations. We expect a lot from him, but definitely not more than Clayton Kershaw expects from himself. He’s an MVP, a 3 time Cy Young award winner. He also has a pitching triple crown, a gold glove, 7 All-star selections, and 5 ERA titles. He’s our generational icon, and despite what you think of his postseason performances, he’s earned every accolade he has.
3) Don Drysdale
61.4 WAR as a Dodger
a 6-5 adonis of a male specimen, “The Big D” probably could have had another Cy Young award were it not for Sandy. He had the one Cy Young, lead the league in K’s three times, 9 all star selections, and 3 world series championships. Don also hit 154 batters in his career, so he loved to establish the inside part of the plate. He also pitched 58 and 2/3 scoreless innings which was a major league record until somebody we might see down the list broke that record. The “Big D” is and still was a Dodger icon.
4) Don Sutton
50.6 WAR as a Dodger
Wins, games played, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, and batters faced. Who owns all of those Dodger records? Don Sutton. He was a Dodger from 1966-1980. 2,696 strikeouts in a Dodger uniform is monstrous, when you consider he totaled over 3,500 in his long career. In a greater context–his name is often overlooked which is absolutely criminal. He came into the league at the end of the Drysdale/Koufax era, and between the 80’s where the Dodgers are often also remembered for their 2 championships. This is in spite of the fact that Don Sutton really is the top record holder amongst Dodger pitchers in more traditional categories than any other pitcher. Hats off to Don Sutton, he belongs on this list.
5) Orel Hershiser
39.8 WAR as a Dodger
The Bulldog, and as Clint Pasillas (@realFRG) would say “friend of the podcast” really has his own place in Dodger lore for ONE season. What a season. A talented and handsome writer for Dodgers Nation wrote a full article on that monster season earlier this summer. You could really make a case for that season to be one of the most ‘MVP’ of all MVP seasons for any player. Orel Hershiser won the Cy Young that year, and NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP. That’s unheard of. Beyond that 1988 magical season, he had many other good years for the Dodgers including a 1985 season where he went 19-3. His WAR numbers aren’t as impressive because those advanced analytics aren’t as kind to ‘pitch to contact’ guys like Orel. For this generation, he’s known as the 2nd half of the Joe and Orel announcing team. He’s insightful and fun with Joe. This writer will always remember him as the ’88 Dodger hero, and so will many others.
6) Fernando Valenzuela
33.1 WAR as a Dodger
El Toro. Fernando Valenzuela’s influence on the entirety of Dodgers Nation and the fans can’t be overstated. So many Mexican and Mexican-American fans are fans of the Dodgers because of ONE man. His arrival on the scene in 1981 literally captured the entire country by storm. “Fernandomania” was everywhere that year. His poster outsold the poster queen Farrah Fawcett that year. Maybe it was because was a Mexican immigrant from Etchohuaquila, maybe it was his unique physique, or maybe it was just his hard work and beautiful screwball–Fernando captured the hearts of Dodger fans and more importantly–brought a new generation of fans to Dodger fandom.
Fernando would play with LA until 1990, when a lot of innings and diminishing abilities caught up to him. Many have attributed that to the era in which he played, and Tommy Lasorda’s reputation for pitching his starters as much as possible. Before he left, he pitched a no-hitter in 1990. This was on a day where Dave Stewart had also thrown a no-hitter.
Don Newcombe: It was hard not to include Don Newcombe on this list. Don was the first player to ever win Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young. This stood until Justin Verlander. He was also the first black pitcher to ever start a world series game. His stature as one of the first black superstars merits distinction in of itself, much less his incredible contributions to the Dodgers organization.
Johnny Podres: Perhaps best known for pitching a shutout in game 7 of the 1955 world series, Johnny Podres is another name that’s often overlooked because of the era that he played in. He was the world series MVP that year. Other than his WS MVP, he won 4 titles with the Dodgers, made 4 all-star teams, and won the 1957 ERA title.
Ramon Martinez: The brother of HOF’er Pedro has himself an impressive career. He played for the Dodgers for 10 years. In 1992 he went 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA, including 12 complete games which lead the the NL. He also had an impressive 226 strikeouts that year. He ranks 9th on the Dodgers all time strikeout list.
Dodger Pitching Legacy
There you have it, my choices for our best all time rotation and the honorable mentions. This wasn’t easy to write because of the Dodgers storied history of excellent starting pitching. Most organizations would kill to have 2 of the names on this list.
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