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Dodgers: Is the Starting Rotation Actually Good Enough as is?



The Dodgers entered the 2021 season with seven major league starters. By October, they had two.

Now, Clayton Kershaw is a free agent stuck in MLB-lockout-limbo. Trevor Bauer is still embroiled in sexual assault allegations. Max Scherzer is a Met. Dustin May is recovering from Tommy John surgery. There’s no indication whether or not veteran David Price will be a regular starter.

LA’s current 2022 rotation features two Cy Young caliber starters, Walker Buehler and Julio Úrias, and a bunch of question marks.

Could Tony Gonsolin, Andre Jackson, and Andrew Heaney be the answer?

Tony Gonsolin

Gonsolin owns a career 2.55 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP as a starter. The eye test, and the stats, suggest that Gonsolin could be a rotation mainstay. Tony Smokes started just 13 games in 2021 as he battled injuries. If he can stay healthy, he is definitely a starter the Dodgers staff can count on.

Aside from injury, the biggest problem isn’t Gonsolin’s ability, it’s how the Dodgers have used him. LA has brought him out of the pen in late-innings and used him as a bulk innings reliever. When he starts, the Dodgers seemingly leave the governor on. Gonsolin threw more than 80 pitches in just four of his 13 starts in 2021.

If Gonsolin stays healthy and is given the proper runway, he could be a great number three starters for the Dodgers.

Andre Jackson

Compared to Gonsolin, the book on Jackson is considerably thinner. Jackson pitched in three games for the Dodgers in 2021 (2.31 ERA in 11.2 IP). None of them were starts, but he threw at least 51 pitches in all three appearances.

Jackson’s ability to utilize his plus changeup will make or break his prospect of becoming a MLB starter. Control is also a concern: Jackson has posted a 4.3 BB/9 over his last three minor league seasons.

The 25-year-old has a ton of upside and he could be part of the glue that holds the Dodgers 2021 rotation together.

Andrew Heaney

Heaney is an absolutely classic Andrew Friedman buy-low signing. Heaney logged a 5.83 ERA last year between his time with the Angels and the Yankees. He had the third worst ERA among starters with at least 120 IP. The lefty also compiled the fifth worst HR/9 (2.01).

The Dodgers have successfully managed reclamation projects. Turning Heaney into a serviceable number five starter would be Freidman’s magnum opus.

Final Thoughts

Re-signing Kershaw changes the rotation calculus. It’s also not out of the question that the Dodgers could sign another veteran starter (Zack Greinke?).

David Price is another wild card. The 36-year-old starting 11 games in 2021, but pitched only 73.2 

What do you think Dodgers fans? Does LA need some starting pitching upgrades?

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12 Comments

  1. They need another competent starter. Gonsolin can only go maybe 5 innings. He has yet to go deep into a game! Kershaw has been hurt the last couple of years, you don’t know at his age and his wind up how long he will last. Price has shown nothing that you can depend on, he seems shot. Definitely need another starter!

  2. Right now the bullpen looks exceptionally strong, and I expect the team will either re-sign Kershaw or add one starter, then sort out the rotation based on effectiveness and health until May gets back. The priorities for free agency or trade will be a topnotch infielder and bench depth. If we don’t/can’t extend Trea Turner, we will keep Lux and hope he can build on late ’21 success.

  3. The bullpen is very strong, even without re-signing Jansen, so I expect we’ll rely on that while sorting out the starting rotation. We’ll either re-sign Kershaw or pick up one starter before the season. Bigger priorities are to replace Seager’s bat and improve depth. If we don’t extend Trea Turner, we’ll keep Lux for insurance and try for either an All-Star or 2-3 solid and versatile players. Don’t look for a big splash like Freeman, because we have to pay others big bucks down the line: Muncy, Buehler, Urias, Bellinger, etc. I believe fans will look back on ’21 team as the most “loaded” ever in terms of talent, and it’s a shame they didn’t win it all–but Braves took it fair & square.

  4. Kinda looks like we have a plan B and/or the ability to start the year with what we have if absolutely needed. Odds are Kershaw will be back but perhaps not at the start of the season.

    It’s beyond comprehension that the Dodgers would stand pat with the starting as is plus Kershaw, or even stop working with Kershaw and Greinke in the fold. We have the trade chips to pick up a solid #3 starter and will probably do that. No one really banks on what we start with; Andrew builds for the post season. Our absolute biggest need is to end this lockout so we can get on with retooling; we’re in the worst circumstances for the team and loyal fans now. This sucks!

  5. Urias, Buehler, Gonsolin, Heaney, and Price currently. I believe Miller is ready for his debut. Jackson, White, and Grove are on the 40 man roster.
    2023 rotation would add May. While I believe the Dodgers could stand pat they probably will add a starter. Dodgers have lots of talent like the fore mentioned Jackson and White along with Pepiot, Miller, and Knack in the minors.
    Everything I have read leads me to believe Bauer will not pitch for the Dodgers again and he will be suspended for the 2023 season.
    Kershaw is the wild card.

  6. Price’s career as a starting pitcher is, unfortunately, in the rear view mirror. Kershaw, a fan favorite for good reason, is not the pitcher he used to be, even though he may still have flashes of his former self. They’re definitely going to need help.

  7. My answer is no. There’s always a couple overrated duds in there like Gonsolin. Whoever they add needs to be able to go 6-7 consistently. Every year the bullpen is burned out when we need them most

  8. I keep hearing Greinke’s name come up. I hope there’s nothing to it. He looked tired at the end of last year and he’s probably lost a foot on his fastball. No way can he help. The team isn’t as good as it was last year at this time. They need another lefthanded bat (Freeman possibly), but length of contract may be an issue. If Bauer can come back — and if his teammates accept him — he can fill a big void in the starting rotation. I really like Freeman as a player and a person. He’d bring a lot to the table

  9. Seems like Mitch White is often overlooked in these discussions. I understand why some of younger, hotter prospects like Miller and Pepiot get more buzz… but why Andre Jackson instead of White?
    White, now 27, was solid in 2021 with 49Ks in 46.2 innings, a 1.18 WHIP and 3.66 ERA. He gave up too many HRs but the infrequent use could be a factor.
    Jackson, age 25, pitched only 11 innings in the majors and did well, but White had the better WHIP.
    I didn’t want Bauer not only because he had a reputation of being a jerk but also because he’d block guys like Gonsolin, White and the since-traded Jojo Gray.