Leave it to Los Angeles Dodgers fans to somehow argue over which of the two most coveted high-end free agents is most suitable for their team. That’s the level of dedication we’re dealing with here. Respect, above all else.
But then we must ask; why is there even a debate between who would be better fit for LA between Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom? They’re the two best pitchers in the game! Does it even matter?! Wouldn’t getting either of them be a massive win?
Just look at the Dodgers’ pitching situation at the moment. Clayton Kershaw is back, but he’ll be good for ~20 starts and will likely be gone after 2023. Walker Buehler is out until 2024. Dustin May needs to prove a lot after his return from Tommy John surgery. Tyler Anderson left for the Angels. Andrew Heaney is still a free agent.
That leaves Julio Urías as the only proven/durable commodity in the rotation. And we’re here fighting over two perennial Cy Young candidates to address the gaping void for 2023?
For what reason? Because you hate that Verlander was on the 2017 Astros team? Because deGrom has a recent, troubling injury history? It’s a three-time AL Cy Young winner vs a two-time NL Cy Young winner. There is no “losing” here.
Why are Dodgers fans arguing over Justin Verlander vs Jacob deGrom?
How are one of these guys possibly “not” a fit for the Dodgers? They both pitch. They’re both aces. They’ve both succeeded in the highest leverage of situations. They’ve been exposed to big markets, the World Series, bitter rivalries.
If “age” is the deciding factor here … we’d argue that’s not even a talking point. Hosting Verlander for the next 2-3 years, despite the fact he’s turning 40, is hardly an issue based on the way he’s pitched from ages 34-39. In 102 starts with Houston over that span, he’s 61-19 with a 2.26 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 0.83 WHIP and 825 strikeouts across 652 innings. The regression is coming at some point, but it’s been undetectable at this very juncture. To “guess” that it’ll happen soon is irresponsible based on what we just witnessed.
As for deGrom’s injury history? He was only recently a victim of that. Outside of his rookie season (which started late) and an injury-shortened 2016 that featured 24 starts, the right-hander has logged at least 30 starts in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. He pitched a “full” season in 2020 when he took the mound 12 times. His elbow inflammation in 2021 and scapula issue in 2022 limited him to 26 outings over the last two years. Reasons to be concerned? Sure. But every pitcher faces the harsh reality of suffering a long-term injury in the modern game. Verlander’s elbow could bark in 2023, even after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. You just don’t know.
Worried about a bidding war? Too bad, there was always going to be one with a number of big market teams involved since the moment free agency began.
Both of these stars are costing a team at least $35 million AAV. That’s just the way it is. If fans have a preference, that’s fine and understandable. But don’t act like one or the other isn’t the right choice. One’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the other likely will be if he can get another three healthy seasons under his belt.
First-world baseball problem here, right Dodgers fans?