While the Los Angeles Dodgers return the nucleus of a roster that won an MLB-best 104 games and nearly a World Series, there was a considerable void left in the starting rotation when Yu Darvish signed a six-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
Rather than potentially reporting to Camelback Ranch, the right-hander was some 30 minutes away as the Cubs also opened Spring Training camp. But even without Darvish, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is confident in his club’s starting pitching despite lacking the experience from previous years.
“If you look at the roster, I think over the last few years there’s been more starting pitching depth as far as established Major-League starting pitchers in the potential rotation,” he said.
“But, uou look at Clayton, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu, outside of that you have Urias coming back at some point. You’ve got Walker Buehler in the mix, Stripling, and Stewart, so there’s guys that are going to be competing.
“Right now, I like our pitching.”
Acquired at last season’s non-waiver trade deadline, Darvish was the right-handed complement to ace Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers had not had since Zack Greinke signed a record deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Of course, Darvish is who ultimately took the brunt of the public blame for losing the team coming up one game short against the Houston Astros in the World Series. Within the organization, however, Kershaw and Justin Turner were among those to advocate for re-signing the 31-year-old.
But that always figured an unlikely scenario, given the Dodgers’ desire to remain below the luxury tax threshold.
As for their current rotation, while talented, Hill, Maeda, Ryu and Wood all faced injury issues last season.
Moreover, Stewart and Stripling each struggled to provide length, Buehler is inexperienced, and Urias is coming off shoulder surgery and likely won’t be available for at least the first few months.
It can be reasoned, if not expected, the Dodgers will at some point look to solidify the rotation. Whether with a mid-tier signing in the coming days and weeks, or marquee trade at the non-waiver deadline.