The ballyhooed depth on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff was quickly tested this spring with several starting pitchers sustaining an injury. They were magnified by Hyun-Jin Ryu suffering multiple setbacks in his recovery, and Brandon McCarthy not expected back until July.
Alex Wood was the natural replacement for Ryu in the rotation, but the Dodgers found themselves in need of a fifth starter by early March when Brett Anderson underwent back surgery for a bulging disk.
The injury was a crushing blow to the southpaw who rejected multiyear offers to re-sign with the Dodgers by accepting their one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer.
While McCarthy and Ryu worked their way through bullpen sessions and throwing live batting practice in recent weeks, there wasn’t much to be said for Anderson. His timetable called for a three-to-five month recovery.
Roughly three months to the day removed from the operation, Anderson has begun to play catch, according to Alanna Rizzo of Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA:
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 3, 2016
While the Dodgers opened the 2016 season facing challenges in their rotation, they’ve multiplied with Ryu suffering another setback, and Wood landing on the disabled list and needing approximately four weeks of rest due to a posterior impingement in his left elbow.
Anderson is coming off a season in which he defied the ‘injury prone’ label. Outside of battling a sore left Achilles tendon that forced him to take an extra day of rest between starts, Anderson had a clean bill of health in 2015.
Anderson went 10-9 over 31 starts last season with a 3.69 ERA, 3.94 FIP and 1.33 WHIP. He led the Majors with a 66.3 ground ball percentage and set new career highs in starts (31) and innings pitched (180.1).