It seems as if manager Don Mattingly has finally decided who will join Dan Haren in the back-end of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation.
Heading into the spring, the spot was up for grabs between right-handers Josh Beckett, Zach Lee, Stephen Fife, Matt Magill and left-hander Paul Maholm. None of them had a standout spring, but Mattingly has already made up his mind.
According to Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times, Mattingly went with a familiar face coming off major surgery to be the fifth starter:
We feel like Josh will be ready to pitch, Mattingly said. He’s held up pretty good. He threw five innings the other night.
We would prefer for him to be built up a little further, but if he absolutely had to pitch, we think he’s going to be a guy that by the time he’s eligible, could help us.
Beckett is eligible to come off the disabled list April 4, the date of the Dodgers’ home opener against the San Francisco Giants; however, the team may not need a fifth starter until at least the middle of the month because of off days. Beckett could be looking at making his 2014 debut on April 19 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, assuming the rest of the Dodger starters remain healthy.
The 33-year-old is coming off surgery that removed a rib and a season in which he went 0-5 in eight starts. He missed some time in spring with a thumb issue, but has been working his way back and should be ready to assume his role as the fifth starter. Beckett did not travel to Australia because of the thumb issue. Heading into the final season of his contract, Beckett will be looking for a strong season in order to help his stock and help the Dodgers reach the postseason and win a World Series title.