Dodgers still have a rotation problem after Freddie Freeman signing
By Adam Weinrib
The term “Super Team” is thrown around far too often in the modern era of sports, mostly by fearful teams attempting to pre-gird themselves against dominance by their enemies. The Dodgers have certainly been first and foremost there for much of the past decade, with only one World Series to show for all the trouble they’ve been through to “rig the league” and make things “unfair.”
It’s all a framing device, though, right? If fans make the Dodgers an unbeatable bully, they’ll rationalize any loss they rack up and will convince themselves they’ve done the impossible with a victory, even though there’s no game as unpredictable as baseball.
All this is to say: the 2021 “unbeatable” Dodgers didn’t even win their own division. This offseason, they’ve lost All-Star Corey Seager and replaced him with All-Star Freddie Freeman. Max Muncy, the team’s 2021 MVP, still hasn’t given us any evidence he’s back to normal after suffering a UCL injury in Game 162.
And, even compared to last season, the Dodgers’ rotation is in shambles.
Don’t get us started on the bullpen, either.
Dodgers’ projected 2022 lineup can’t cover up their rotation holes
Don’t get us wrong; the lineup is stunning. Freeman will pick up any remaining slack from Muncy’s injury, and if something goes wrong on the infield without Seager in place, Gavin Lux is an, ahem, acceptable No. 9 hitter. Even if Cody Bellinger doesn’t bounce back, there are MVPs leaking out the sides of this batting order.
But the rotation, which somehow wasn’t enough in 2021 with Max Scherzer atop it, looks worse for wear than the version that ended last season — and that version started Joe Kelly in the NLCS.
Walker Buehler and Julio Urías top the 2022 Dodgers fivesome, coming off 226 and 200.2 innings, both career-high marks by a wide margin. Fatigue set into both of their arms during the 2021 postseason; Urías especially, whose 2019 and 2020 campaigns featured 83.1 and 78 innings, respectively.
Behind them comes Clayton Kershaw, back on a one-year deal and seeking vengeance after being knocked out of 2021 with an elbow issue. Kershaw is still Kershaw, but this Kershaw has a clearly-defined ceiling (and, again, will bump up against fatigue and injury fears).
Behind those three options, each flawed in their own way? Tony Gonsolin, who took a step back in 2021. David Price, who’s probably not a starter? Andrew Heaney, who remains Andrew Heaney. Dustin May, eventually. LA’s unparalleled depth in the rotation has turned into two young stars battling the natural elements of fatigue, one aging gunslinger, and a heap of No. 6 starters.
Remember, Max Scherzer used to be here, and that wasn’t even good enough.
If the Dodgers feel “unfair” to you, it’s only because you root for an owner who has gotten you under his spell and convinced you that no one can compete at the current financial levels, save for this one team.
In reality, the lineup is special … but we’ve seen special lineups matched with decidedly shaky pitching staffs before, and rarely can a stacked corps outhit the unpredictability on the other side. Be wary before joining in the “Super Team” chants — because they want you to forget the rotation, too.