Over the past three seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers arguably had the best one-two punch in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Hyun-Jin Ryu proved a formidable No. 3 starter behind the two aces, and the Dodgers continued to hang their hat on the starting rotation.
With Greinke now in Arizona, Los Angeles appears to have shifted to a rotation that’s deeper as opposed to top-heavy.
The recent signings of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda gives the Dodgers six viable options come Opening Day.
That number hinges on Ryu making a successful return from shoulder surgery, though indications continue to point to the left-hander recovering by Opening Day.
While Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman didn’t rule out any additional personnel moves, the club’s starting rotation largely appears set.
As such, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked it the sixth-best group in baseball:
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
Rotation candidates: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy, Mike Bolsinger
No one should be surprised if the Dodgers finish 2016 with the lowest starting pitcher ERA. Although the departure of Zack Greinke is an enormous loss — and may be the difference in whether L.A. reaches the postseason — Kershaw is still widely regarded as the best pitcher in the majors, and Kazmir and Anderson are both capable of strong outings. Lost in the concern over Kazmir’s late-season struggles in 2015 is the excellence of his first half, when he posted a 2.49 ERA for Oakland, and Kazmir and Anderson both have a chance to refine their resumes for free agency next fall (Kazmir signed a three-year deal but has an opt-out after the 2016 season, while Anderson accepted the team’s qualifying offer).
To little surprise, Olney ranked the New York Mets’ rotation as the best in baseball. In terms of the National League West, the San Francisco Giants are ranked fifth and Arizona Diamondbacks ninth.
San Francisco generated plenty of headlines with the signings of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, giving them a strong trio that’s led by Madison Bumgarner. Arizona drew similar attention by signing Greinke and then trading for young righty Shelby Miller.
As for the Dodgers, their depth could be aided by Brandon McCarthy’s return from Tommy John surgery, which is expected to be near the All-Star break. Maeda in a sense represents another question mark given the “irregularities” that surfaced in a physical he took.
However both situations ultimately unfold, the Dodgers appear to be in better position now to withstand injuries in their rotation than they were last year. Aside from Major-League depth, it’s aided by their crop of young pitching prospects having another season of experience under their belts.