Dodgers’ Rotation Beginning to Take Form

Just a few weeks ago, the Dodgers’ starting rotation looked to be a big concern.  The off-season had not been kind.  Zack Greinke was gone, and the Dodgers had missed out on all the big name free agents like David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Jordon Zimmerman.  They had a deal in place with Hisashi Iwakuma, but it fell through after he couldn’t pass the team physical.  Many fans were beginning to wonder what kind of starting rotation the Dodgers would be marching out there come next season.

Now, only days later, the Dodgers look to have a deep rotation, with many options at their disposal. We take a closer look here at what kind of starting five (or six) the Dodgers could be throwing out there in 2016. So what changed and was it enough?

ICYMI: Dodgers 2015 Recap, 2016 Preview Yearbook

Well, it seemed pretty evident that more moves would be made. Within the last few days, they finally have, and for good reason.

Other teams in the NL West like the Diamondbacks and the Giants have upgraded their starting rotation this offseason, and one could argue that the Dodgers have also improved now.  The additions of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda may not replace Zack Greinke, but it does provide depth. After some injuries last season, the Dodgers were forced to piece together the back end of the rotation, relying on guys like Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, plus spot starts from others throughout the season.

While those guys did an admirable job filling in, it wasn’t the ideal situation for the Dodgers.

We start at the top of the rotation with the best pitcher in the game: Clayton Kershaw. That’s a pretty good start. The former NL-MVP and 3-time Cy Young Award winner is the rock of the rotation, and the kind of ace that most teams just don’t have. That’s advantage Dodgers against all other 29 teams in the game.Hyun-Jin Ryu

Filling the #2 spot in the rotation may still be the biggest question for the Dodgers rotation. That’s because it was once occupied by the NL ERA leader last year, who took his talents to Arizona. One guy that could possibly fill this role, is Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Ryu is coming off a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season, so some are skeptical that he can return to form. According to his doctor, however, given the type of injury Ryu had (with no rotator cuff issues,) over 80% of pitchers who have that surgery return to play at their previous level. Nothing for certain by any means, but at least there’s good odds that Ryu can make a full recovery.

Some might point to the fact that Ryu has always been the 3rd best starting pitcher on the Dodgers, even when healthy. This is true, but that would be the case for most pitchers who happen to be teammates with Kershaw and Greinke. Looking at Ryu’s stats, however, tell a bigger story. He’s 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his first two seasons. Many teams might love those numbers for their #2 starter.  Dodgers’ fans have been spoiled by having a guy like Greinke be your 2nd best pitcher over the last few years, but having someone like Ryu fill that role isn’t so bad.

KEEP READING: So, where do the new guys fit in?

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Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.


  1. Good points, and it is taking shape…I still think having 4 lefty’s in the rotation is not a great idea, but that is me. We will see how it all works out…..does make for interesting conversation though

  2. It was years back when every pitcher was’nt expected to  throw 94 mile an hour fastballs. I think if Ryu is heathy and Kazmir continue to get rightis out, our starters could surprise baseball. We all have seen pitchers with good off speed pitches make that 89 to 93 mile fastball look faster. I prefer pitchers not hard throwers. Look, Jamie Moyer couldn’t  break glass with his fastball, but pitched into his forties. Use our young fire ballers in short relief  first.

  3. Robert Hamilton None of these guys look like Jamie Moyer to me, but that being said, we need to see who is healthy and who is not…..Bolsinger did not and does not impress me one bit…didn’t when he was with Az either….

  4. Michael Norris Robert Hamilton my point was if a pitcher is crafty and effective , it doesn’t  matter if they are rightis or leties.I would love  to have four Kershaws.

  5. Robert Hamilton Robert I agree. That is why I like Montas as a BP guy. I am more concerned as we have all said with the starting line-up. The offense or lack there of than the pitching at this point. I think they picked up enough in the rotation to have enough to get them to 2017-2018 and that was their goal.
    I read that the surgery on Ryu was not related to the rotator cuff so the odds of a full and quick recovery are very high. The BP has some great young arms with Liberatore, Hatcher, Garcia, Baez Frias and others all fighting for a spot.
    But the offense is just down right scary. Who knows how Turner’s knee will recover? Grandal’s shoulder is a real concern. Which of the many Puig’s do we get? Can Etheir hit as well a year older? If they keep Crawford how much can they get out of him? He is incredibly injury prone. SVS will he hopefully improve to the guy we saw in 2014? The other huge question mark is Pederson will he adapt or be the same pig headed batter we saw in the second half flailing at unhittable outside pitches? And striking out far too many times and killing rallies. Where does Thompson fit in and is there room for him on the roster?
    Now that the market for 2nd basemen has dropped I would sign Kendrick. We can very much use his bat and 280-290 Avg. and he is a dependable defensive player. Also he is a solid clubhouse guy from all reports. I do not like Kike full time as I think we need him to sub for Turner and others.

  6. Tmaxster Robert Hamilton good point.  I don’t trust  the offense  at all. Seems the only positive  is we’re finish  with Rollins, and Seger takes over. And, oh yeah mattigly is gone. As bad as Rollins was hitting he refuse to play seager.

  7. Robert Hamilton  Tmaxster Yes the big gain is Seager over Rollins. But taking Kendrick out of the line up leaves a hole and I am curious who they will use to protect Gonzo. Turner had micro-surgery on knee so not confident in his immediate recovery.

  8. As usual nice report Brian. As the surgeons and therapists have said Ryu did not have surgery to the Rotator Cuff he should regain full potential in the Spring. The fact he was pitching with a bad shoulder and put up the numbers he did is encouraging for the long term. He is,when healthy a legit #2 look at his numbers. With a bad shoulder.! And he has done well in critical games and the playoffs. I think he matches up well with the other #2 starters out there. I agree with you in that there aren’t any Kerhsaw & Greinke type duos in the NL that I see.  There are some good ones but Kershaw, Ryu, Kasmir, Maeda and Anderson or Wood make a nice rotation. I believe Meada may surprose some people. 
    You do not have to throw the ball through a brick wall. It is all about deception, changing speed, location and ball height. Keeping the hitter out of rhythm. Greinke is a master of it. So was Maddux and he was did not have a plus 92 fastball. I like the numbers of Maeda. The incentive laden contract worked well with Anderson lets see how it does with Maeda and Kazmir is pitching for an opt out so huge incentive for him and Anderson… Looking for FA in 2017…
    It is all about the offense though

  9. Tmaxster I agree with you. I thought the same thing of Ryu. When I heard that there was no rotator  problem I was over joyed. When I speak of crafty pitchers Ryu is one. As you said a pitcher doesn’t  have to trow the ball through a wall to be effective. Today everyone wants 96 or 7 mile an our fastballs. But as you said, Maddux, Glavin, and my favorite  Catfish Hunter made a living getting people  out by what is called pitching, not trowing. And now we can see if our young arms can help the BP, and think of scoring  some runs.

  10. thanks Tmaxster. agree, some questions about the offence, particularly at 2nd base. Puig and Joc really need to step up next year. I think Seager will be a huge upgrade at SS though, and could have a big year.

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