2014 Season Preview: Looking At The Dodgers Starting Pitching

Clayton KershawThe 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitchers saw much success despite some injuries and unknowns at the back end of their rotation. They would collectively go 62-46 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP for the entire season. These numbers are mainly attributed to their highly dependable one through three starters in the rotation, who will thankfully all be returning for the 2014 season.

Let’s start with number one: the Dodgers arguably have the best pitcher in baseball. This off-season, Clayton Kershaw signed a seven-year contract worth $215 million as the Dodgers avoided arbitration with his contract extension. This deal surpassed Justin Verlander’s contract as the largest deal for a pitcher in MLB history. To the Dodgers organization, he’s worth every penny. Despite an uncharacteristic performance by Kershaw in the 9-0 loss that would eliminate the Dodgers in the NLCS last year, he had lights out numbers during the regular season, earning him the 2013 NL Cy Young title. He finished with an overall record of 16-9 and a 1.83 ERA which was the lowest in the league. Fans everywhere feel comfortable with number 22 on the mound and there’s no doubt his success will translate into the 2014 season.

Kershaw will be accompanied this season by number two and three starters returning this season as well. Granted there will be no bench-clearing fights this upcoming season, a healthy Zack Greinke is projected to have an impressive year as well. His fractured collarbone would have him on the DL for almost two months last season, but he returned without skipping a beat, finishing the season 15-4 with a 2.64. These kinds of numbers would make Greinke an ace for most other organizations, displaying the depth the Dodgers have at the two spot.

At number three in the rotation, Hyun-Jin Ryu would prove himself as a big contributor in his debut season in baseball. The 26 year old is a solid number three guy and should only improve from here after a year of MLB experience under his belt.Going 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, Ryu gives this rotation impressive depth through the three spot, but now this barks the question: what will the Dodgers do with the fourth and fifth spot in this rotation?

Problems with the end of the rotation last year will arise yet again. With Chad Billingsley coming off of Tommy John surgery and an injury-ridden Josh Beckett, a more obvious choice for their number four starter for the time being would be the recently acquired Dan Haren. Signed for one-year and a guaranteed $10 million, Haren is coming off of one of his more disappointing seasons with a 10-14 record and a 4.67 ERA including some time spent on the disabled list with back problems.  With that being said, the former All-Star has a lot of experience under his belt. If Haren can stay healthy, the Dodgers will have more hope at the fourth spot than last year. If his back proves to be an issue, they may have to look elsewhere.

Next Page: Who will win the Dodgers 5th starter spot?

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