Dodgers: How Does the Rotation Stack Up After Max Scherzer, Danny Duffy Trades?

The Dodgers wasted no time in loading up for the stretch run, and their roster looks incredible on paper. As if there wasn’t enough star power in LA already, the team went out and added a pair of All-Star players to add to their growing collection.

Now that Max Scherzer is officially on his way to LA, let’s take a look at how the starting rotation will likely stack up for the rest of the season.

1. Walker Buehler

Buehler is now the ace of this staff, there is no more denying that. Even with Max Scherzer on his way to Los Angeles, I’m not sure there’s anyone you would rather hand the ball to in a do-or-die game than Walker. During Clayton Kershaw’s absence, Buehler has gone 3-1 with only three earned runs allowed over his four starts. His 11 wins this season are second in baseball; only behind his teammate Julio Urías and a rejuvenated Kyle Hendricks, who both have 12. His ERA is also among the league’s best, with a 2.19 stat that ranks 4th overall.

Related: Roberts Thinks Walker Buehler Needs to Be in the Cy Young Conversation

The ‘stuff’ has always been there with Buehler, but the opportunity to truly lead this staff has not. This month has given us a glimpse of what a future without Kershaw might look like one day, and it seems as if the 27-year-old is up for the task whenever that day comes.

2. Max Scherzer

It’s not every day that a former Cy-Young winner gets traded to a team and isn’t automatically the ace of the staff. That’s how deep this Dodgers team is, however, and boy is it going to be fun to watch.

Max Scherzer has been quietly enjoying a great season to this point. His record may be a pedestrian 8-4, but his 2.76 ERA and 5.25 strikeout to walk ratio tell you that he is still the same dominant pitcher who you never want to face. Scherzer has had a few injury scares this season, with his most recent coming less than a week ago as he was scratched with triceps discomfort, but that doesn’t seem to be a long-term concern at this point. He should step right in and become the team’s number 2 starter.

3. Clayton Kershaw

Any team that can have Clayton Kershaw as their third-best starter is absolutely loaded with talent, and that is definitely the case here. Even though he’s given up his fair share of runs this year, Kershaw has still found ways to get the job done.

He’s pitched at least 6 full innings in 14 of his 18 starts this year, and his 6.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio is still elite for a starting pitcher. He may not be the same dominant force that he’s been over the last decade, but he still has plenty left in the tank to help this team win it all once more.

4. Julio Urias

It’s rare for a team’s number 4 starter to lead the team in wins, let alone lead the league. Yet that is the type of season that Julio Urías is having in 2021. The Dodgers offense has a lot to do with it, as Urías is the owner of a 3.54 ERA on the year. But while he’s definitely benefited from some great run support, Julio has looked good in his first attempt at a full major league season.

Urías has already blown by his previous high of 79.2 innings pitched, and he has more than held his own. After constant shuffle between the rotation and the bullpen during his first 5 seasons, he’s delivered for this team as a valued member of the starting rotation. On many other teams, Julio would already be the 1 or 2 starter for sure. Here in LA, however, there’s still some work to do before reaching that level.

5. Danny Duffy/ David Price

While the trade for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner received all of the headlines, the Dodgers made an additional move to bring in Danny Duffy from the Royals as well. This trade may seem like a filler, but Duffy could wind up playing an important part down the stretch for this team.

The first four rotation spots are all but locked in, but there is some flexibility at the back end as the season progresses. With David Price still struggling to find his form, Duffy could very well slide in as the 5th starter to eat some innings and save the bullpen. Alternatively, David Price could continue to get some starts while Duffy takes on the long reliever role in the bullpen. Either way, the Dodgers found themselves another depth piece that should help them keep their arms fresh after a very taxing month of July.

PODCAST: Reacting to Scherzer, Turner, & Duffy to LA

Daniel Palma

Daniel is an avid sports fan who loves his hometown teams. If he's not watching baseball, you can find him playing or coaching. No matter what, he'll always root for the Boys in Blue!


    1. Agree totally. Gonsolin has a 2.25 ERA. Give give him the ball. Stop disrespecting this guy and let him pitch. Price and Duffy to the bullpen.

  1. Great job by Friedman and FO in getting needs w/ two elite playoff championship experienced all-stars added to fortify the team. I get it everybody is excited in the race for the division and eventual WS as all contenders have bolstered their rosters. With that said, I was disappointed the Dodgers lost out on Kimbrel to the White Sox. The White Sox got aggressive and now have 2 elite closers, w/ Kimbrel having one more year. It would have been a super trade day if they acquired a shut-down closer, as Jansen has never been strong in the 2nd half, Knebel would be okay but not a closer, and who knows anybody else can step up. The only idea now is to score many runs before the 9th to give our ace starters the win.

    1. Agree completely. I thought AF was going to pull off the move for Kimbrel, and we would be off to the races. Sherzer was huge. Trea Turner is also a huge boost offensively and defensively. Betts and Seager are back this week. So what is our only remaining weakness? Closer. I’m still hopeful Knebel can do it. I would also let Graterol close some games prior to the postseason to see if he can progress. He needs to locate the heater better, and work on offspeed stuff to compliment it.

      1. With our stellar acquisitions and Betts, Seager and Kershaw returning soon, the Dodgers are poised. I agree that Graterol should be allowed to close some games to see how he progresses. It has been frustrating to watch amazing performances by Buehler and Urias when they don’t get the “W” because there was inadequate run support and/or we couldn’t effectively close a game out.

    2. I would say the #5 is Gonsolin if he could throw more strikes. When Duffy comes back, he should saddle up there with Price/Gonsolin going to the pen. Or we can go with a 6 x man rotation to preserve bullets…but preserving bullets is less important considering our need to win the division. Let SF and SD fight it out in a one game playoff. Problem is, until our Blue prove otherwise, both SF and SD are better than us.

  2. Dodger fans hate to lose especially when you have a power lineup like ours. There is no other city can have a baseball team like us. No one Stop losing these easy games. I saw what happened last game when the pitcher walked three and a double. Sorry Price. What happened. I really hate unearned runs. It is bad baseball. Errors also no excuse for a routine play. I am all in if your not up for the challenge let the management know, see ya

    1. Yes, that’s why I was surprised so many people were pushing for Price to be a starter. He is arm-weary w/ no life on his pitches. He has just two pitches to go to w/ confidence, but when his command is off, his pitches become very hittable when he is forced to come in. Especially he was only throwing 89-92mph w/ the fastball and no movement. He’s good for the first 50 pitches or the first time through the order only….that is why I think his value @ this point of his career is in the pen.

  3. Do all of these acquisitions really matter when the disastrous bullpen has not been addressed. Unless all of these great starters can pitch nine innings, we will still have to rely on the washed up Jansen and a bunch of other teams castoffs.

    1. Duffy and Knebel fortify the pen as well as Price, so do not despair – Dodgers are all set in the pen. kenley will be watched closely and carefully and who knows we may see Julio back there to close games in the playoffs.

  4. Gonsolin appears to have a shoulder injury that prevents him from throwing strikes. He should go on the IL, not touch a baseball for a month, then work towards being ready for a bullpen role in the playoffs.

  5. You think there’s a problem now with starting rotation ? What if Bauer returns later in season and the also consider May ready in spring.
    Who’s going to volunteer for the pen ? ( There’s room for a closer ).

  6. Clayton Kershaw, Danny Duffy and Trevor Bauer will all probably be back in mid-August. The smart thing to do would be to move Kershaw and Duffy around for extra rest and go 6-man rotation in September ahead of the post-season. They can go deeper into games in the playoffs, considering the bullpen is the only little chink in the Dodgers armor.
    In 2016, Joe Maddon did it with an already stacked rotation and mowed everyone down (Dodgers included) on the way to a WS title.

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