For most organizations, the starting rotation is always a work-in-progress. They enter Spring Training with questions about who will earn back-of-the-rotation spots and are constantly scouring free agency for someone who can help.
Not so for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In fact, for the Dodgers, the problem is the exact opposite. Instead of wondering who their fifth starter will be, the club is trying to wade through the problem of having too many starting pitchers.
Los Angeles has veterans, young hurlers and injury-prone options in the middle. So where does that leave them?
At the moment, the Dodgers have Jose De Leon, Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias and Alex Wood all on the 40-man rotation with Major League starts under their belt.
That’s 11 starters. And that’s not “we’re desperate for help, so this pitcher is an option” depth, either. Aside from Stripling and Stewart, the other nine would all start for most teams when healthy.
Of course, “when healthy” is a major asterisk with the Dodgers, but as it stands, each of the aforementioned pitchers are expected to be healthy come Spring Training. Yes, even Ryu.
So let’s break the crop of starting pitchers into three sections: the guaranteed starters, competition and long shots.
The Guaranteed Starters: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda
Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and Hill just signed a three-year, $48 million contract, giving the Dodgers one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in baseball. Last season, Hill had the second-lowest ERA among pitchers with 110+ innings. Who had the best such ERA? That belonged to Kershaw.
Then there’s Maeda — the only reliable arm the Dodgers had for the entirety of 2016 and some who would have had a great shot at winning the National League Rookie of the Year if not for one Corey Seager.
In 32 starts (the most on the team), Maeda went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
CONTINUE READING: Pitchers in competition to crack the starting rotation, and more