Masahiro Tanaka would have been a great addition to the Dodger..."/> Masahiro Tanaka would have been a great addition to the Dodger..."/>

Josh Beckett Will Be the Fifth Starter…For Now


Masahiro Tanaka would have been a great addition to the Dodgers rotation and to Los Angeles and the Japanese community here, but he has reportedly agreed to sign on with the Yankees. The Dodgers most likely offered Tanaka way less than the arguably overinflated $155 million contract which New York agreed to. This deal makes Clayton Kershaw‘s $215 million contract look like a bargain. The Dodgers were smart in not overpaying for the right-hander, and even though they missed out on the top free agent pitcher this winter, they still do have some in-house options for the backend of the 2014 rotation.

The thing is, the Dodgers are paying Josh Beckett $15.75 million next season. So they’re going to use him. We know how this will end up. Beckett is supposedly feeling good and will be ready for Spring Training next month. His July 10th surgery which required rib removal for his thoracic outlet syndrome ended his 2013 season after he went 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 8 somber starts for the Dodgers.

Josh Beckett will get the chance to start for the Dodgers in 2014. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Beckett, the former World Series MVP, was in decline for quite some time even before being traded to the Dodgers in the mega deal with Boston in 2012. I’m not sure how much of his poor pitching was due to the thoracic outlet syndrome, but we shall soon find out.

The Dodgers will give Beckett the chance to bounce back this Spring and start for the Dodgers at the start of the season. While I don’t wish failure on the veteran pitcher, my outlook remains bleak. What will probably happen is that the Dodgers will go with Beckett (unless he fails right away in Spring Training), and they will try to procrastinate until Chad Billingsley is back in May or June. How many losses will this be for the Dodgers with Beckett on the bump? That’s anyone’s guess, but I’m figuring quite a few.

The only silver lining to this situation is that the Dodgers have other starting pitching options. Zach Lee is ready to make his Dodger debut, and the young hurler will be raring to go in Spring Training in order to try to make the team out of camp. Ross Stripling is another prospect to watch this Spring, and he could slot into the fifth spot if needed as well.

Matt Magill and Stephen Fife are always options, and while they most likely will begin the season in Albuquerque, we certainly

Chad Billingsley will be back mid-summer. Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

will see them at some point next season. I don’t think Magill or Fife will be a permanent solution to the backend rotation hole (Lee or Stripling could be), but they are sufficient fill-ins.

There’s also right-hander Seth Rosin who was acquired by the Dodgers from the Mets during the Rule 5 Draft. Rosin would have to remain on the Major League roster the entire season in order for the Dodgers to retain him, so look for him to be highlighted this Spring at Camelback Ranch. Ned Colletti seemed intrigued about Rosin. The 25-year old went 9-6 with a 4.33 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 26 games (23 starts) with the AA-Reading Fightin Phils last season.

Beckett, if not healthy out of Spring Training, will be headed toward retirement soon. This won’t be before the Dodgers give him the opportunity to pitch since you don’t pay a player $15.750 million and not at least give him a shot. Perhaps Beckett will surprise us all and bounce back to successfully pitch again…

Zach Lee come on down!