Dodgers: Pros and cons of every fifth starter candidate

Adam Weinrib
Feb 21, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price (33) sits in the dugout during spring training at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price (33) sits in the dugout during spring training at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Days before the start of the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are met with the type of decision most MLB teams would die for.

Who should occupy the fifth starter spot: the Cy Young, the 2020 Rookie of the Year candidate, or the flamethrower who touches 101 with a cutter? Decisions!

In reality, though, it would be tough to fathom a more difficult call. Whose ego bruises the least by a perceived “demotion”? Who works better as a Swiss Army knife? Can the spot rotate? Can the three men withstand constantly being pulled back and forth?

Will the Dodgers accidentally end up discarding two extremely worthy rotation options by assigning them as innings-eating bullpen chum?

Dave Roberts announced on Saturday that the first four starts of the season will be handled by Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias in that order, stunning many who believed Urias would ultimately be a valuable bullpen weapon to start the season.

That left David Price, the Dodgers’ big-money partner in the Mookie Betts trade, on the outside looking in, along with Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, two rookies who factored heavily into the team’s plans in 2020.

Price pitches against the Angels on Sunday in one last showcase before the season begins in earnest and decisions have to be made. In evaluating these three starters competing for one spot, you really can’t lose…but you can try to map out the best and most efficient 162-game path coming off a weird season.

The Dodgers must choose between these 3 rotation options.

Dodgers
Feb 26, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price during Spring Training workouts at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Dodgers Fifth Starter Pros and Cons: David Price

Pros for Price? The pedigree, first and foremost.

If you’re looking for steadiness to navigate through the choppy waters of a repeat bid, David Price is certainly the most experienced captain, contending everywhere he’s ever pitched, from Detroit to Boston.

The 2012 Cy Young winner and a three-time top two finisher, Price earned the massive contract the Red Sox awarded him prior to the 2016 season and then some. Frankly, it feels almost ludicrous he’s in this conversation instead of being grandfathered into a rotation spot as the most high-profile option, but that’s the kind of leeway that being the Dodgers earns you. Lots of good arms out there.

The cons? Price has both his injury history and “in absentia” 2020 season working against him.

The last time we saw Price, he was battling through a 2019 Red Sox season that didn’t go so well for anyone in Boston, a heartless attempt to defend an historic title. The lefty made just a pair of starts after Aug. 1 that season, and was officially shut down in early September after dealing with a wrist issue, wrapping up a 7-5, 4.28 campaign.

Of course, Price has yet to pitch in a Dodgers uniform despite arriving prior to the 2020 season, opting out when the summer resumed. It was a perfectly fine decision for him to have made, but it leaves him at an even stricter disadvantage in terms of innings limits. Both Gonsolin and May — as well as every other starter in the rotation — will be building back up after pitching in about 1/3 of a typical baseball season last year.

Price? He’s building up from zero, and perhaps could use a month or two in the bullpen (at least) working as a jack of all trades before filling a midseason hole (if needed).

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