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Dodgers: Starting Rotation Should Be a Top Priority for LA, According to MLB Insider

The Dodgers head into the offseason facing at least a handful of questions, with nine players heading into free agency and team option or non-tender decisions to make on several others. Next year’s team could look significantly different than the team that won 111 games in the regular season before flaming out in the NLDS.

Over at The Athletic, they dug into each team’s biggest need between now and the start of the 2023 season. Dodgers beat writer Fabian Ardaya acknowledges the need for a starting shortstop, but he says the team’s top priority is somewhere else:

First is restoring their depth in the starting rotation, which looks much thinner with Clayton Kershaw and Tyler Anderson as free agents, and with Walker Buehler not expected to pitch in 2023 as he rehabs from a second Tommy John surgery.

Julio Urias is in line to be their ace, coming off a season in which he led the National League in ERA and will likely finish in the top two or three in the Cy Young voting. Behind Urias are Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, both of whom have exciting potential along with huge question marks. Gonsolin was a Cy Young contender before an arm injury derailed him late in the season, but he was also the second-biggest beneficiary of the defensive shift, which is being banned next year. May, on the other hand, returned from Tommy John surgery to mixed results, and only time will tell when (or if) he regains his pre-surgery dominance.

Beyond those three, there’s nothing but questions. Clayton Kershaw will probably be back for his 16th season in Dodger blue, but probably isn’t definitely, and even if he returns, they probably can’t count on a full, healthy season from him. Tyler Anderson is also a free agent, and while many believe he’ll be back, it’s uncertain if he can duplicate his outstanding 2022 season.

Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, and Andre Jackson are all starters who spent some time in the big leagues in 2022, but Grove and Jackson aren’t top prospects and Pepiot hasn’t yet shown he has the command to consistently get major-league hitters out. Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone are both top prospects knocking on the door of the big leagues, but it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers leaning too heavily on unproven rookies right out of the gate.

Jacob deGrom is likely to be available on the free-agent market, and a handful of other frontline starters could be dangled in trades. One way or another, addressing the starting rotation will be a top priority for Los Angeles.

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  1. I’d like to see the Dodgers take a flyer on Shintaro Fujinami. He’s had control issues over the past few years, but if the Dodgers pitching staff can fix his command. When this guy is on, he’s just as good as Ohtani. He can be a much cheaper option than other top rated FA pitchers.

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