Andrew Friedman Explains Downside Of Dodgers Using 6-Man Starting Rotation

The Los Angeles Dodgers are moving out of the early stages of Spring Training with full-squad workouts already underway and Cactus League play starting later this week as they are roughly one month away from the 2024 season opener in South Korea.

This spring follows an eventful offseason that saw the Dodgers make significant moves to fill their needs, which included addressing their starting rotation. On that front, the Dodgers added Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, James Paxton, and brought back Clayton Kershaw to add both depth and talent to the group.

Although the Dodgers have many quality arms, they are not without question marks, which led to the idea of the team possibly using a six-man rotation.

General manager Brandon Gomes echoed the Dodgers were mulling the idea in late December, while president of baseball operations recently spoke about the downside of regularly using an extra starter, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“Because then you have a seven-man ’pen,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said of the idea. “It’s gonna be a little bit of a shell game. But we feel really good with the depth and quality of arms that we have. And there will be periods where having more length in the ’pen serves us when we’re playing a lot of games in a row, and others where we have a lot of days off and can go a lot shorter. There are gonna be a lot of conversations that we have to put ourselves in the best position to win baseball games.”

Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted for the pitchers who are used to throwing every fifth day, a six-man rotation can also throw off their schedule even further:

“I think the downside is just kind of when you do that, with off days, there are other guys that don’t need all that extra time,” Roberts said. “So you’re just kind of … trying to be as sensitive to everyone and that middle – to get guys ample time in between starts but also not giving certain guys too much time. So there’s a little middle that you’re trying to deal with.”

Yamamoto has been limited to pitching once a week in Nippon Professional Baseball, Glasnow and Paxton both have lengthy injury histories, Buehler is returning from a second Tommy John surgery, and young arms, including Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan, have yet to pitch a full season at the Major League level.

The Dodgers are likely to continue to internally discuss what route they intend to take, but it’s likely they follow strategies they have in the past to get pitchers rest, which includes bullpen games and spot starters. Michael Grove and Ryan Yarbrough are both options to make the bullpen and could eat innings to give regular starters rest.

So even if the Dodgers only carry five starters in their rotation, they are still going to find ways to get their guys rest and limit their innings when possible.

Dodgers ‘really fortunate’ to have big offseason

The Dodgers suffered an early end to their postseason run in 2023, mostly having to do with their lack of starting pitching depth.

Ohtani was their biggest acquisition, but with the trade for Glasnow and the signing of Yamamoto, they solidified the front of their rotation. Friedman emphasized the Dodgers’ good fortune with how free agency played out and is now putting his focus on Spring Training and the regular season.

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