The Los Angeles Dodgers had visions of beginning the 2015 season with a starting rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and filled out with a more-than-serviceable No. 3 starter in Hyun-Jin Ryu, and high-potential arms in Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson.
Ryu never threw so much as one inning outside of Spring Training, and McCarthy underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in April. That sent the rotation into a bit of a tailspin which Anderson, suddenly the club’s No. 3 starter, did his best to help provide stability.
After months of cycling through internal options in search of answers, the Dodgers acquired Mat Latos and Alex Wood in trades with the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, respectively. Although the Dodgers are mired in a four-game losing streak entering play Wednesday, a third consecutive National League West division title remains well within reach.
Throughout the year Kershaw and Greinke have met expectations, if not exceeded them, but questions remain beyond the two aces in Los Angeles. Not for manager Don Mattingly, however. “I think we feel as good as anybody,” the fifth-year Dodgers manager said Tuesday of his third and fourth starters.
“Brett has thrown the ball good for us all year long. Between Alex and Mike [Bolsinger], both of those guys have given us really good outings at different times.” Anderson elevated the ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday and got chased after allowing five runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings.
The 29th start of the season was the most Anderson has made since his rookie year (2009) with the Oakland Athletics. With 168.2 innings pitched and two more scheduled starts, he should surpass his career high of 175.1 innings, which was also set in 2009.
The workload is something the Dodgers have been mindful of as they’ve twice afforded Anderson with extra rest between starts recently. Mattingly indicated the club is also monitoring Wood, who threw 6.1 innings on Tuesday to run his 2015 total to 177.1 frames.
“Just watching them, paying attention. We gave Brett an eight-day break not too long ago with that in mind,” Mattingly said. “Having conversations almost daily about Alex. Maybe the Braves skipped him a couple of starts last year. Think he’s pitched as much as he ever has.”
Wood will fall short of setting a new career high in both starts and appearances — currently 24 and 35, respectively, set with the Braves last season. He did however, surpass the 171.2 innings pitched in 2014, which was the previous high of his young career.
For as much as the Dodgers are cognizant of the load that’s been placed on both Anderson’s and Wood’s left arms, the focus remains on pushing forward. “Right now, we’re trying to win games,” Mattingly said. “Not thinking about going backward, we’re trying to go forward.”