Depending on who you ask the Dodgers have plenty of pitching or not enough. This comes up because as the Dozier talks heat up I hear several arguments.
- The Dodgers should be targeting more pitching not hitting
- The Dodgers should not be trading almost major league talents like De Leon and Stewart for hitting even if that hitter is an all-star right-handed slugging 2nd baseman who fits the team perfectly.
- The Dodgers have enough pitching depth that they can trade from their minor league surplus to get that all-star right-handed slugging 2nd baseman who fits the team perfectly.
What is the current depth if the Dodgers trade Jose De Leon and Brock Stewart in a Dozier deal?
The main core:
- Clayton Kershaw – the beast was felled last year and for the first time in his storied career spent significant time on the DL. Backs don’t seem to heal magically, and while he looked just like Kershaw of old when he came back, you can understand the question mark being applied to him for the first time. Can his back hold up or is this something that will be troublesome for the rest of his career? I’m feeling somewhat optimistic and penciling him in for 200 innings.
- Kenta Maeda – Kenta never hit the DL but required an awful lot of rest for the second piece of the rotation. We should be able to pencil him in for 170 innings.
- Rich Hill – the largest question mark of a rotation full of question marks. I’m going to be conservative and simply pencil him in for what he did last year. 125 innings.
- Julio Urias – the wild card, health should not be an issue, simply how many innings will the Dodgers try to extract from him. I’m going with 125.
That is the big four of the rotation. Three left handed pitchers who could easily be three of the top 10 left handers in the National League when they actually pitch.
Now we get to the pitchers coming back from injuries:
- Alex Wood was sailing along as a member of the Dodger rotation when felled by an elbow debridement which required surgery. Once back the Dodgers didn’t trust him much and only allowed him to throw in the bullpen. If Wood is put back in the rotation he would give them four left handed starters. As a fifth piece of a rotation, he’d be solid if not spectacular. I’m giving him an optimistic 125 innings.
- Scott Kazmir is another left hander vying for a spot in the 2017 rotation, who the Dodgers are probably trying to trade even as I write this. Scott had his moments in 2016 including two brilliant back to back starts in late May. From May 14th to July 31st, Kazmir went undefeated (7 – 0) with a 3.73 ERA in 13 starts. Overall he underperformed expectations probably due to numerous injuries. He started out 2016 with a bad thumb, had some cramps, back and neck issues that put him on the DL on Aug 23rd. When he tried to come back he kept getting shut down and eventually it was determined he had thoracic spine inflammation. At the end of the year, they gave him one start and he left that early with right intercostal spasms after one inning. I’m not giving him any rotation innings in this exercise since I expect him to be traded.
- Brandon McCarthy was quite the 2016 enigma. He came back early from his TJ surgery and because of need was quickly installed into the rotation and excelled for 30 innings before going Steve Blass. Supposedly he resolved this issue but when the Dodgers gave him a start in Sept he couldn’t get one out and thus ended his 2016 season on a shield. The good news for McCarthy is that his arm seems fine. The bad news is that he’ll have to overcome about as bad an ending to a season as you can have. At this point, McCarthy has to be the poster child for the worst contract handed out by the Friedman era front office. He’s two years into the contract that has paid him $25 Million and has made all of 13 starts. He has two years left, and word is they are also trying to trade this contract. Much like Alex Wood, if Brandon McCarthy can be the guy the Dodgers signed two years ago, he’d make a great fifth starter. Or maybe he can be a stellar bullpen guy ala Derrick Lowe. I’m not giving him any rotation innings in this exercise.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu hasn’t pitched two games in a row since Sept 12, 2014. His latest setback was the same elbow debridement procedure that Alex Wood had. The Dodger FO has said that Ryu will be 100% ready by Spring Training. Based on Wood’s timetable that makes perfect sense. The bigger question is what does Ryu have left after his shoulder surgeries. Or can he even have a starters load without injuring something else? I think the Dodgers will give him a long look this spring but end up releasing him. I hope I’m really wrong on this and that he surprises everyone but for this exercise, no innings for Ryu.
- Ross Stripling made the Dodger rotation out of spring training and ended up making the fifth most starts on the team. It would not surprise me if that is the case again in 2017. I’m putting Ross down for 100 innings as a starter, possibly piggy backing with Urias or Hill depending on who is not pitching at the time.
- Jose De Leon appears ready for his spot in a major league rotation. It may not be with the Dodgers.
- Brock Stewart appears ready for his spot in a major league rotation. It may not be with the Dodgers.
- Vidal Nuno was acquired this winter and while it appears he’s destined for the bullpen he has made 42 major league starts, with ten coming as recently as 2015. He was used almost exclusively in relief in 2016.
- Carlos Frias has made fifteen starts for the Dodgers over the past three years. He probably would have had more in 2016 if he had been healthy.
Last year the Dodgers got roughly 850-900 innings for their starters. Using this exercise I come up with about 850 innings while being conservative with Hill, Wood, and nothing from Kazmir/McCarthy.
Looking at this exercise, while the Dodgers have enormous question marks, the depth is so deep, that I think they can trade De Leon and Brock Stewart and be okay. The back end of the rotation is not that important if Kershaw/Kenta/Hill/Urias are making their regular starts, but we know that 3 of those 4 come with their own question marks. Sure I’d rather have Jose De Leon or Brock Stewart making those 100 innings instead of Ross Stripling. In an ideal world, Kazmir or McCarthy step up.
Course that is all based on what I know, the Dodger FO should know more about the conditions of Kazmir/McCarthy/Ryu/Wood.
I’m of two minds on the Dozier deal. He is such a perfect fit for this team that I would bite the bullet and make a deal that does include De Leon and Stewart and expect the Dodger front office to make do with what they have or add to it. The idea of a Dozier lineup is simply too enticing to not make happen.
The other part of my mind is that maybe the lineup is already good enough and maybe stockpiling the pitching is the better way to go and wait to see what opens up in July. I think that I’d really enjoy watching Willie Calhoun hit for the Dodgers.