Remember, The Dodgers Still Need Another Starter
The long awaited signing of Brett Anderson was finally announced yesterday, which meant the jettisoning of Erisbel Arruebarrena. As of right now, the rotation is set and if everything goes to plan, the Dodgers will throw out Clayton Kershaw– Zack Greinke– Hyun-Jin Ryu – Brandon McCarthy– Brett Anderson hopefully in a row next season, which on paper sounds awesome!
However, the games are obviously played on the diamond, and only one of those starters is coming off of a season where they weren’t injured, that was somehow Brandon McCarthy, who’s shoulder shortcomings are well documented, and very significant.
There’s a decent chance that Kershaw-Greinke and Ryu make a combined 75-80 starts, this upcoming season,they provided the Dodgers 85 last season even with some fairly scary injuries to Kershaw (back muscle strain) and Ryu (two bouts of shoulder troubles), and the chronic injuries that Greinke endures seemingly every season.
But with the recent signings of McCarthy and Anderson are such question marks, it’s difficult to see them giving the Dodgers 40 starts. Even if you assume McCarthy’s 2014 is the norm going forward (he’s only made 25 starts twice in his career), then what’s Anderson’s norm? He’s thrown 318.2 innings since his rookie season, hasn’t topped 50 innings in a season since 2011. Just take a look at the things that have happened since then. The positives are there, the 55.4% ground balls, the 7.03 K/9 rate paired with only a 2.42 BB/9 rate making for a 2.91 ERA and 2.99 FIP in Coors Field. That’s impressive, but maybe the most confusing evaluative tool in all of baseball is health.
It’s not very controversial to suggest that staying healthy is a skill, especially for a pitcher. Considering health to be a skill is exactly why I will never understand the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Anderson signing, continually adding the “if healthy, Anderson is one of the best starters in baseball” caveat before evaluating Brett completely ignores that Anderson’s ceiling as a pitcher is limited because of his inability to throw a baseball on a regular basis.
At least with McCarthy, he has made 42 consecutive starts and a jump in velocity this past season. His success in the 2014 season might have been a result of his shoulder strengthening exercises, which sounds plausible and promising going forward. With Anderson, it’s pretty much hoping that his back injury is a fluke, his bones aren’t brittle, and his arm issues are behind him. The former is always going to be a safer bet.
Which then leads to the idea that the Dodgers really need another starter. Whether that comes in the form of Bartolo Colon, whether that’s my personal favorite option in Mike Leake, whether that’s a lottery ticket on Chad Billingsley (and hoping 2 out of the 3 oft injured starters work out), whether that’s signing Max Scherzer and laughing at the rest of baseball, I don’t know. But do you really feel comfortable going into 2015 with McCarthy (historical shoulder issues)- Anderson (historical everything issues)- Wieland (historical elbow issues) filling out the back of the rotation? *crosses fingers*
Something else is coming, this can’t be it because it could be a difficult situation to navigate if the Dodgers don’t get at least 40 starts from McCarthy and Anderson. Given how things have shaped up, that’s still a huge question mark.