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Dodgers Rotation Brought Into Question By MLB Network Radio

Is the starting pitching depth too thin? One radio pundit believes so.



Obviously, the Los Angeles Dodgers are not having a banner off-season. Lately, much of the subject matter has been about how little the Dodgers have done and if their organizational goal is to win a World Series or simply win the NL West.

Now, MLB Network Radio host C.J. Nitkowski raises concern about another possible achilles for the Dodgers. Notably, Nitkowski is worried about the team’s starting rotation as they enter the season. Have a listen to the sound clip below.

First, Nitkowski takes the organization to task for not bringing in an additional starting pitcher.

“The question that’s out there that will continue to hang out there is their rotation. That is their biggest concern. When I think about their off-season the thing I am most surprised about is that secondary group of guys, even starting with Zach Wheeler and down. Dallas Keuchel and others, it seems like at least one of those guys would have been a good fit and an easy place for them to add dollars that they could have easily afforded. But that didn’t happen.”

I have to say, Wheeler is a real head-scratcher for me. He signed early in the off-season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but I thought that would be the player the Dodgers ended up signing. Instead, they countered with Jimmy Nelson.

From there, Nitkowski says the Dodgers need to be mindful and have a contingency plan in mind in case one of the big two goes down with an injury.

“The big thing is, what happens if Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler have to miss even a month? Does that scare you a little bit? Does that create an opening perhaps for somebody else in the division?”

Indeed, Nitkowski is talking to Stan Kasten and those of you who already have the Dodgers penciled in to win another division title. And he’s right, something unforeseen like this could be the silent partner in why the Dodgers miss the playoffs entirely.

Finally, Nitkowski goes on to mention the likes of Dustin May being able to fill in for one of the aforementioned starters should they get injured. However, he doesn’t really see the Dodgers as a postseason rotation right now.

Undeniably, the organization just didn’t get it done this winter. And that will make the 2020 season one of great intrigue from the onset.

NEXT: ESPN Rates Dodgers 2020 Rotation Highly

Written by Staff Writer

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  1. No team is immune to Injuries altering their season but the Dodgers are better equipped than most and have demonstrated it for several years now. They won the division by 21 games last year and are prohibitive favorites to win the NL pennant in 2020. Their eyes are on – and should be – the Yankees and Astros. Is Keuchal or Wheeler a big enough upgrade over Urias or May to pass either of those teams? I don’t think so. Keuchal and Wheeler are small thinking and the Dodgers need to think bigger.

    • Wheeler or Kuechel as the number three or four is just what they needed. Washington got through Houston because they had Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin etc.

      The Dodgers just have Buehler, if we are being honest.

      • Exactly. We have one post season pitcher right now, I agree that Keuchel and Wheeler are not major upgrades on Ryu or a healthy Hill. But since the Dodgers apparently had little interest at bring them back, they should have been looking at pitchers who could have approximated their results. They didn’t. Now we have a team that is set up to lose any division series 3-2.

      • Clint … Neither Wheeler nor Keuchal is the same class as Strasburg, Scherzer, or Corbin. Frankly, outside of innings pitched, I don’t see much separation between Keuchal and Maeda or Stripling. Here on the east coast, I’ve seen a lot of Wheeler who is equal parts a world beater and really terrible. I’ve heard Dan O’Dowd – whose opinion I respect – state on MLB network that whoever overpaid (what he signed) for him will regret it. People talk about his potential upside but balk when speaking of Urias.

        I’m bullish on Urias and Tony Smokes and am interested to see what May has with more innings but, I admit as it stands today, Buehler is the only proven playoff performer. If none of the kids show in the first half of the season, the Dodgers have some work to do.

        But that wasn’t the point of the discussion. The pundits suggested if Kershaw or Buehler were hit with injuries, the Dodgers’ season was in jeopardy. Well where do the Nats stand if Scherzer goes down? The Astros if Verlander goes down? I’ll stand by the Dodgers have better options than either if it happened.

        • exactly right. with Urias, May, Gonsolin and Strip vying for 2 spots in the rotation, I think the Dodgers are set for the first half. The FO will see what we need and go from there.

  2. Problem:
    What if Kershaw or Buehler have to miss even a month?

    Solution:
    Promote rhp Josiah Gray to the L A Dodgers.
    2019 minor league stats:
    11 wins
    2 losses
    2.28 era
    130 innings pitched
    147 k
    31 bb
    0.99 whip

  3. Problem:
    What if Kershaw or Buehler have to miss even a month?

    Solution:
    Promote rhp Josiah Gray to the L A Dodgers.

    2019 minor league stats:
    11 wins
    2 losses
    2.28 era
    130 innings pitched
    147 k
    31 bb
    0.99 whip

  4. Clint, being the way this rotation is now, and with a potential for injury as was talked about, there is no way on earth that Dodgers are fit for October baseball. And maybe missing the PS altogether might wake up those top people in the organization. But then again, we all would hear or read how they won a division title 7 out of 8 years, IDK…

  5. The Friedmman Fanboys will insist May, Gonsolin and Urias are the next coming of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. But Nitkowski is right in noting that all they are, at this point, question marks, ones that will likely have inning limits as well. The Dodgers let two experienced starters walk and – as usual – have found an oft injured, cheap replacement. It’s hard to imagine them not cruising to an eighth division title. But at the same time, you are left with only one proven post season starter. Yes, they gave Cole the old college try, but why wasn’t there a realistic plan B other than “the kids are gonna do the job, until we sit them at 125 innings.”

    • Yeah, I see a lot of folks projecting May to be a Cy Young candidate already in 2020. I think he could do that when he reaches his ceiling but I am not optimistic about it happening that fast. Love Gonsolin, unsure of his true ceiling and Urias is a question mark going forward.

  6. I believe they do think they can at least go until the trade deadline with Buehler, Kershaw, May, Urias, Maeda, Gonsolin, and Stripling, and then re-evaluate. There’s always arms available by then.

    I’d prefer they sign 3B Donaldson and move Bellinger back to 1B so that DJ Peters could play RF against LHP. Then move Belli out to RF and Muncy to 1B against RHP. DJ’s big right-handed bat provides more diversity in the lineup along with Donaldson’s.

    As far as LF goes, its either Pollock or a deal is done with Boston for Betts (and Price’s contract- there’s your other SP) for Pollock and prospects like Rios and/or White, Santana and Estevez…

  7. Paul and rainbird, the arrogance once again of Friedman is on display. Most championship minded organizations in any sport win with Veteran top tier players and have their farm as plan B back up plans. The Dodgers have their Farm players guaranteed starting in the lineup with injury plagued veteran pitchers as their plan B. Using a experimental metrics system at a minor league level to justify their reasoning as to promote. Even Kasten should know that homegrown talent like Smoltz and Glavine wouldn’t have been anything without their Top FA Greg Maddox! It blows me away Kasten won’t add that modern Maddox to help Buehler get this team over the 33 year curse!

  8. It’s not just that Kershaw might get hurt. It’s that he has declined from the dominant pitcher he once was and he remains a big question mark in the playoffs. Whether the playoff thing is mental or not, it’s real. Why they let Ryu go without signing a replacement I’ll never know. I fear the Dodgers are content to win pennants and have a longshot chance at the WS and that as long as Freidman and his budget-consious decisions are in command of the Dodgers we won’t be seeing any WS championships. Sure, they have a lot of young talent. But that won’t win a WS unless you are utterly lucky.

  9. I think it’s about selling expensive seats and the brand merchandise “ in the pursuit of” a World Series. The Dodgers are in contention every year for the pennant and make a significant profit. Teams like the Dodgers know they don’t need to win the World Series. Heck, the Padres Dont even need to win anymore to be profitable!

  10. Solution. = invest in more top tier talent. The Dodgers are 22 n d in spending on talent as we speak. The Yankees and nationals are #1 and 2. And if you don’t build a roster that can match up with theirs, the result is predictable. Matching up Kersh against Sherzer, and Gonsolin against Corbin?Does the front office even think about this simple fact? Thank God the Lakers don’t operate in this fashion! Their G league players are only for emergencies. What this tells me is the Dodgers have thrown in the towel this upcoming 2020 season waiting ” like always” for the prospects to developed. So only thing for me to do is agree with them, and I’m throwing in the towel also. Ben Franklin and I will be waiting for them to developed as well over at Staples with the Lakers!

  11. Nitkowski is 100 percent right. The Dodgers need a proven starter. Badly. If you rely on May, Gonsolin, and Urias heavily during the regular season, they will be all used up by the postseason. They will all be pitch count restricted, or otherwise tapped out. None of them is ready for anywhere near a full season of starting games, much less into the postseason. And what is the likelihood of Kershaw having back issues? The rookies should be ready to go deep in 2021. But not this year. As for Nelson, it would take 10 of him to come close to Rich Hill, and about 20 to come close to Ryu. Kershaw is a year older, and increasingly vulnerable. The starting rotation is much weaker than last year. Starting pitching wins in the postseason, and the Dodgers just don’t have it.

  12. Where is the harm in getting a big arm at the top of the rotation. A 1 2 punch buhler and [said arm] and allowing may, goslin or any other up and comer a chance to develop.
    Now instead of going with a known commodity we will be putting the pressure on these young arms to produce now in 2020 for the sake of the season… because a filthy rich front office could not get proper resources to these individuals to sign.them.

  13. I guess there’s a reason that Nitkowski is on the radio and not running a baseball team.

    “Undeniably, the organization just didn’t get it done this winter.” First, winter’s not over and no team should sign players just for the sake of signing players. When you look to upgrade one of the best MLB teams, Stan Kasten got it right saying they were looking for “elite talent” – not just anyone.

    Everyone, including well known wonks of the baseball world continue to focus on the baseball card stats. Cole is getting paid for 9 years in the future based upon historical stats from the past season or two. He’s not going to be the same pitcher in 8 years – sorry Yankee fans.

    No one knows for sure, but somewhere there will emerge the next top pitcher in MLB. And that is the key – finding them, not signing some 30 year old for $200+ million. Looking at the Dodgers, Urias, Gonsolin and May could breakout and be that next guy. Lots of upside in the group of 3 young pitchers. The key is finding talent like David Price and Chris Archer as Mr. Friedman did in TB. A few short years ago these were pitchers desired by many teams in trades. Mr. Friedman found them; Why now is it such a stretch to think he could do that again?

  14. Getting Wheeler would have meant losing a draft pick which is something that the Dodgers are loathe to do.

  15. 3 1/2 months away from opening day and 9 months away from the trade deadline …..the dodgers have the horses in the minor leagues to compete during the regular season ….. the dodgers have open dialogue on potential trades with the Indians and the Red Sox …. let’s not act like the dodgers don’t have a plan because they do …… also Friedman likes to wait until the trade deadline to see what pitchers are on fire to make a trade for at the deadline…. a lot of the time the asking price will go down when teams are our of contention and want to unload contracts.

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