Dodgers: Four Questions the 2018 Dodgers Must Answer

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Clayton Kershaw
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Clayton Kershaw /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Clayton Kershaw /

Who can the Dodgers rely on to pitch deep into games?

This year the Dodgers starting rotation hardly ever consisted of the same starting five pitchers.  It seemed like every time through the order there was a new pitcher or two added in place of a starter.  It also appeared that due to relying on the bullpen for too many innings the Dodger bullpen was simply gassed in the World Series.  Kenley Jansen wasn’t his usual dominant self, and Brandon Morrow hit a wall after being dominant all season.

The Dodgers need to pick up a starting pitcher who can give them six to seven innings almost every time out.  This year Clayton Kershaw led the Dodgers in innings pitched, and he only pitched 175 innings.  The usual benchmark for a starting pitcher is 200 innings.  If you can reach close to 200 innings every season, you are a workhorse.  The Dodgers need another workhorse.  They have one in Kershaw, but he has succumbed to back injuries the past two years, so even he has some questions about his durability.

In fact, the Dodgers only had two starting pitchers who topped 150 innings as Alex Wood threw 152 innings while every other member of the starting rotation was around 130 innings or less.  The Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitchers, but they all have their injury risks.  Kershaw has gone down with a back injury in back to back season, Rich Hill has infamous blister issues and will be 38 years old next season, and Alex Wood had various arm/shoulder ailments throughout the year.  Kenta Maeda was a better reliever than a starter, but even when he’s a starting pitcher, he broke down at the end of 2016 from throwing too many innings.

Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu also went down with physical ailments throughout the season, so it’s clear that the Dodgers need a workhorse to lift the burden off of the bullpen.  You can “bullpen” a game in the post-season but you cannot do that all regular season without taxing everyone in the bullpen.