Nationals Max Out Starting Pitching; Dodgers Still Projected to Be Solid


The Dodgers definitely have a good starting pitching rotation as of right now which includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. The Washington Nationals made a big splash this holiday weekend by signing free agent ace Max Scherzer to a $210 million 7-year deal. Scherzer is added to Washington’s pitching arsenal, and will give them arguably the best rotation in the National League and making them frontrunners at the 2015 World Championship.

Last season, the Nationals had five starters who were at the top of the N.L. in E.R.A. Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Roark, Scherzer and Doug Fister were all tops in the league. Their rotation for 2015 will be Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister. It is a veritable Mount Rushmore of starting pitching.

Interestingly, according to the depth charts from, the Dodgers are projected to have a better starting ERA than the Nationals next season. Remember, these are just projections.

Dodgers 3.23

Nationals 3.41

Giants 3.62

Cardinals 3.64

Mariners 3.74

Clayton Kershaw214. %2.452.635.1
Zack Greinke188. %
Hyun-Jin Ryu179. %3.343.362.3
Brandon McCarthy160. %3.453.322.1
Brett Anderson92. %3.693.590.9
Joe Wieland65. %
Juan Nicasio38. %3.783.910.3
Zach Lee9. %4.484.490.0
Carlos Frias9. %4.544.470.0
Total954. %3.233.2713.8
Max Scherzer198. %
Stephen Strasburg179. %3.032.873.8
Jordan Zimmermann179. %3.393.452.8
Doug Fister179. %3.783.682.0
Gio Gonzalez160. %3.703.592.0
Tanner Roark38. %
Blake Treinen9. %3.843.680.1
Taylor Jordan9. %4.023.910.1
Total949. %3.413.3714.7

Even though the Dodgers didn’t make any big free agent signings this winter so far, they still added to their pitching depth by acquiring both Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson for the fourth and fifth slots. Yet when we look at starting pitcher WAR, the Nationals have a much more well-rounded group of starters even though the Dodgers do have the best pitcher on the planet with three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.

The backend of the Dodgers starting rotation is still a bit questionable since both Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson have a history

Will Brett Anderson stay healthy the whole season for the Dodgers? Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

of injury. The Nationals also have more pitching depth than the Dodgers, and they have Tanner Roark as a great option if needed. If one of the five Dodger starters should succumb to injury during the season (and it is almost a guarantee that it will happen as some point), then they next starter in line would be a Joe Wieland, Juan Nicasio, Carlos Frias or Zach Lee.

Which brings me to another point which is Zach Lee’s probable Dodger debut in 2015. Even though Lee hasn’t broke through to the Majors yet, it seems inevitable that 2015 should be the year. The Dodgers added Lee to their 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Lee had a really rough season in the Pacific Coast League last year. He went 7-14 with a 5.38 ERA in 28 games (27 starts).

Hopefully, the Dodgers Triple-A move to Oklahoma City will set up Lee for improvement and his eventual Major League debut. Lee impressed in Double-A Chattanooga in 2013 going 10-10 with a 3.22 ERA and 22.8% strikeout rate. We tend to forget that Lee is still only 23-years old. The Dodgers have held on to him this long refusing to trade him, so I see Lee making an impact with the Dodgers sometime in 2015.

Adrian wrote about the Dodgers need to add even more starting pitching depth, and I agree that the Dodgers need to obtain at least one more reliable starter, or even a front line starter if they want to challenge the Nats for the best rotation in baseball. It would be nice to have some more options in order to stave off the early season Carlos Frias or Red Patterson start.

We all know what happened last season when the Dodgers lost Clayton Kershaw early on to a shoulder injury. Whenever the Dodgers seem to have plenty of extra arms, they all go down with injury at seemingly the same time spurring spot starts from less than desirables. With Greinke’s iffy elbow, Hyun-jin Ryu’s seasonal shoulder woes, Brett Anderson’s surgery history and McCarthy’s shoulder problems, the need for more starting pitching is there.

Last season the Dodgers were 2-4 against the Nationals over 6 games played against them. Three of those losses had Dan Haren, Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia pitching in them. With Scherzer off the table, it wouldn’t hurt the Dodgers to pick up some additional starting pitching depth before Spring Training even if that means taking a risk on Chad Billingsley or signing someone like Bartolo Colon.