Examining If The Dodgers’ Pitching Staff Can Sustain Its Success

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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Entering the 2015 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff appeared to be an anchor for what many believed would be a World Series contender. Two injured starters later, the Dodgers still (somehow) look like one of the best teams in the league, but the question is, is the pitching staff as-is really sustainable?

Atop the rotation, the answer is an obvious yes.

While Clayton Kershaw “struggled” to begin the season, the underlying predictors behind his statistics always suggested that his status as the best pitcher in baseball was never in jeopardy. Yes, he has a 3.21 ERA, but when you remove factors that Kershaw can’t control and look at a statistic like xFIP, Kershaw ranks No. 1 in the Majors at 2.16.

Behind Kershaw in the rotation is Zack Greinke, whose numbers are seemingly the reverse of Kershaw’s — as he boasts an impressive 1.95 ERA, but ranks No. 27 in xFIP thanks in part to a lucky .254 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) — which is well below the “expected” average of roughly .300.

Regardless, the duo of Kershaw and Greinke remains among the best in the Majors and should provide no headache between now and October.

From there, however, things get interesting.

In category No. 2 is Brett Anderson, the team’s No. 5 starter to begin the season (when we assumed Hyun-Jin Ryu would, you know, pitch at some point), who has moved into the No. 3 role thanks to injuries. In looking beyond Anderson’s arbitrary 2-4 record, he has been solid thus far.

In 12 starts, the left-hander boasts a 3.57 ERA and 1.34 WHIP — both solid for a No. 3 starter. His ERA comes in at No. 45 among qualified starters, which, when you consider that there are 30 teams, is exactly what a contender like the Dodgers wants from the middle of their rotation.

With Anderson, however, the question has never been about his “stuff,” but about his durability. Remember this: Anderson hasn’t made this many starts in a season since 2011 (when he made 13), and he hasn’t made more than 19 starts since 2009.

Has Anderson been good? Yes. But can he be counted on for 18 more starts? Ehhhhhhhhh….

If only that were the end of the Dodgers problems…

CONTINUE READING: Can The Pitching Staff Continue In Right Direction?

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