Why the 2021 Dodgers could have the greatest rotation of all time

Jason Reed
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 2: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Detroit Tigers during game two of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on August 2, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 2: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Detroit Tigers during game two of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on August 2, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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The Los Angeles Dodgers made the biggest move of the offseason, signing 2020 National League Cy Young Trevor Bauer to a three-year, $105 million contract. The 2020 champions were already the favorites to repeat in 2021 and the Bauer acquisition makes the team even scarier.

The Dodgers were already blessed with pitching prior to Bauer’s arrival. Clayton Kershaw is the greatest pitcher of this generation and posted his best era since 2016 in 2020. Walker Buehler is arguably the best postseason pitcher in baseball, David Price is returning (if he is not traded) and they have three really exciting young arms in Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.

All that plus Bauer makes quite the starting rotation. The Dodgers undoubtedly have the best and deepest starting rotation in baseball, and quite frankly, they could challenge to become the greatest starting rotation of all time.

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Who are the Los Angeles Dodgers competing against for the greatest rotation of all-time?

64 starting rotations in the live-ball era have posted an ERA under 3.00.

There are a lot of pitching metrics that go into deciding the greatest starting rotation of all time — the most basic of which is ERA. In the live-ball era (1920-present), there have been 64 teams to post a collective rotation era under 3.00. No bullpens allowed (although the Dodgers have a great bullpen, too).

The last team to do so was the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals, which posted a rotation ERA of 2.94. They join the 1989 Dodgers, 1988 Mets, 1988 Dodgers, 1981 Astros and 1981 Yankees as the only teams to do so in the last 40 years.

The greatest ERA by a starting rotation all-time is 2.45 by the 1967 Chicago White Sox — which was two seasons before MLB decided to raise the mound, as pitchers had too big of an advantage over hitters.

From a logistical standpoint, the 2021 Dodgers do not have some of the advantages that other great staffs had early in baseball’s history. However, they still have a fairly good chance of being the greatest starting rotation in league history.

Let’s break down the reasons why the 2021 Dodgers could be the best ever.

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