Starting pitching needs to carry the load, but who takes the big step after Kershaw and Buehler?
The starting rotation has remained a strength for the Los Angeles Dodgers throughout their seven year run atop the NL West. But will it be again in 2020?
Between the loss of Hyun-Jin Ryu to the Blue Jays via free agency and the trade of Kenta Maeda to the Twins, the Dodgers are losing 55 starts and 319.2 innings of 5.1 fWAR baseball. While Maeda’s role was never truly defined in a Dodgers uniform, the depth and production of both he and Ryu will be tough to duplicate.
The Dodgers did pick up a solid starter in former ace David Price (acquired in the Mookie Betts trade), but Price is coming off of a lackluster season in Boston, where injuries continuously stalled him and ultimately made his contract expendable. Ideally, the Dodgers would love for him to get back to his 2018 self, when he put up a 16-7 record with a 3.58 ERA, 9.05 K/9 ratio, but even that came with a few missed starts only 176 innings of work. Given the Dodgers own issues getting pitchers to the 200 inning mark, they would like a bit more from their number three starter.
That’s where the young depth that the Dodgers have built can really help them in 2020, and ultimately becomes more of a must than a luxury. The continued growth of Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin will ultimately be key to the Dodgers continuing their streak. While Alex Wood does loom as a veteran option, the trio of young arms may ultimately be the big turning point for Los Angeles.