Are the Dodgers risking too much on their rotation in 2020?
It is hard to feel too badly about the Los Angeles Dodgers when it comes to starting pitchers. After all, we’re talking about a team with all-world Clayton Kershaw at the top of the rotation and a rising ace in Walker Buehler right behind him. Not too many teams can contend with that type of 1-2 punch.
The trouble the Dodgers face is that there are some serious question marks after those first two take their turns in the rotation. As currently slated, David Price, Julio Urias, and Alex Wood are expected to fill out the rest of the starting crew. The team also has Dustin May waiting in the wings to take a spot when needed, not to mention Ross Stripling as a swing-man.
For a team with World Series aspirations, they are asking a lot out of the second half of the rotation. The team lost some serious depth when Hyun-Jin Ryu left via free agency and then team traded Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins, but opted to fill the holes with bounceback candidates (Price, Wood, Jimmy Nelson) and unproven younger arms (Urias, May).
Price may be slotted right where his skill set currently demands. He’s no longer an ace, but the Dodgers are also not paying him as an ace and if he gives them near the production that he gave the Red Sox over the past few seasons, he could be a serviceable, middle-of-the-rotation arm.
Wood is an intriguing option, as he was outstanding for the Dodgers over the 2017 and 2018 campaigns (combined 5.5 fWAR, 25-10 record, 3.20 ERA, 8.5 K/9). Still just 29-years-old, he’s hoping added velocity and a reworked delivery helps him to regain his status as a key arm in the Dodgers rotation.
The biggest question may be Urias. After years of starts and stops, it is hard to remember that he is still just 22-years-old. However, he’s only thrown more than 100 innings in a single season at any level (2016) and has lost time to both injuries (shoulder surgery in 2018) and suspension (domestic battery in 2019). He’s been stellar when on the mound though with a career 3.18 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and a 9.1 K/9 mark.
We know Jackie Robinson is the best second baseman in Dodgers history, but who else ranks in the top five?
The presence of May and Stripling may help to provide needed depth down the road, but there is a lot riding on the final three starters to emerge and solidify the rotation. Otherwise, the Dodgers may be shopping at the trade deadline (if there is one) for some reinforcements.