Do the Dodgers have a weak spot? Andy McCullough of The Athletic did a mailbag on Tuesday, and he thinks they might.
With Clayton Kershaw laid low by another back injury, plus Walker Buehler out indefinitely, the rotation looks a tad worrisome. If neither Kershaw nor Buehler makes it back for October — Kershaw may be more likely than Buehler — the Dodgers will have to bank on Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney and Dustin May carrying the load. The first four have all produced excellent results in 2022, but are also more contact-prone than most contenders would prefer. May is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
The Dodgers certainly have enough talent to win the World Series with these starters. They have pitched quite well. But if you had to diagnose a weakness, this would be it.
McCullough’s logic makes sense, and his last sentence kind of drives the point home when it starts with “But if you had to diagnose a weakness.” While the Dodgers’ starting pitching is undeniably their biggest potential October weakness, that’s relative to the rest of their team. The Dodgers still lead the majors in overall ERA and starter ERA, so diagnosing this as a weakness is kind of like diagnosing Toy Story 4 as the worst Toy Story movie: Sure, it’s the worst of the four, but it’s still much better than most other movies.
Perhaps most notable, though, is the potential upside. The Dodgers lead MLB in ERA despite having an ineffective Buehler for half the season and no Buehler the other half. If he comes back healthy and effective, he’s a legitimate playoff ace. Kershaw is in his second stint on the injured list, but neither stint was related to his pitching arm, so he very well could come back healthy and dominant in September and October. And while May hasn’t pitched since early last season, his rehab is going well and his stuff looks really good, so he could be very effective either in a starting role or as a multi-inning reliever.
Let’s put it a different way: The Dodgers have a three-time Cy Young Award winner, this year’s Opening Day starter, and a dude who throws 100 with movement coming back soon to go along with two guys who made the All-Star team this year, a guy who won 20 games last year and has a 2.49 ERA, and a guy with a 0.64 ERA.
There’s some potential for volatility, but a lot of teams would kill for that “weakness.”
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