History not on Dodgers' side
OK ... but this might be how the Dodgers wanted it! Pressure removed. Expectations a bit more modest. More doubters floating to the surface. It was all part of Andrew Friedman's offseason plan when he was downgrading and making cost-effective additions.
But perhaps having historic trends not on their side wasn't part of that plan? Here's what Gonzalez laid out in his story:
"Only five teams have reached the World Series with a higher regular-season starters' ERA than the Dodgers current mark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and none since the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. Only four got there with more than 50 regular-season starts taken by rookies, and only one -- the 2013 Cardinals -- did so in the past 70 years. Just four teams have won it all while averaging less than five innings per start during the postseason, though two of them did it very recently -- the 2021 Atlanta Braves and the 2020 Dodgers."- Alden Gonzalez, ESPN
Let's start from the top. That 2006 Cardinals team, don't forget, had Adam Wainwright in the bullpen, who didn't allow a single earned run across 9.2 postseason innings. Jeff Weaver also came back to life that October, giving up just nine runs in his five total starts (29.2 innings). Jeff Suppan won NLCS MVP. This was a very, very evident outlier of a success story.
And then there are the 2013 Cardinals. Cool team, but they got boatraced in the World Series by an even more mysterious Red Sox team. The rookies on St. Louis' staff that year were ... Shelby Miller (!), Tyler Lyons, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly were also on this team in their second seasons.
How did they fare in the postseason? Wacha dominated throughout, but got shelled in Game 6 of the Fall Classic (which clinched it for Boston). Miller didn't pitch beyond the NLDS. Lyons didn't pitch at all. Martinez pitched well out of the bullpen, which was his primary role during the regular season. The difference here is the Cardinals had a very good bullpen and enough overall pitching depth to absorb bad performances or having to leave the rookies off the roster. The 2023 Dodgers don't.
So there you have it. Three legitimate reasons to fear any non-traditional pitching plan devoid of three top-notch starters. It could work, but there's no comfort in it until we can see the results. Here's to hoping for a one-of-a-kind playoff run. That'll make the stress worthwhile.