Four Burning Questions The Dodgers Face For The 2015 Season

Jon Soo Hoo-Los Angeles Dodgers
Jon Soo Hoo-Los Angeles Dodgers

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3. Is it safe to rely on Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy?

Based on pure talent, the Dodgers probably have the best fourth and fifth starters in the NL West, and arguably the National League (should you take up the argument, expect some angry Nationals fans on your Twitter timeline).

In 2011 and 2012, Brandon McCarthy was rock solid (when available) for Oakland. And after a disastrous 18 months in Arizona,  started throwing his cutter again for the New York Yankees last year with high end results.

Basically, by any metric McCarthy has (when available and not wearing a Diamondbacks uniform) been a very good pitcher over the last four seasons.* Brett Anderson has a career ERA of 3.93; it was under 3.00 last year in Colorado.

Two years ago in Oakland, (when available) Anderson averaged more than a strikeout per inning. (When available) He has shown the ability to get Major League hitters out at a clip far exceeding your average fifth starter.

Of course, the 200+ inning season McCarthy posted in 2014 was a career first. Anderson also cracks the 200 IP barrier, if you slap together his last four years, and even then, only barely. It’s wishful thinking to believe both of these guys will pick up the ball every fifth day all season long.

Which is fine, because if the Dodgers get about a season’s worth of starts between the two, they’ll likely be in good shape relative to the competition. If that innings figure rises a little higher, the Dodgers will almost certainly have a major competitive advantage.

Should the Dodgers have to improvise in that fifth slot because either Anderson or McCarhty are unavailable, they have resources to cope — Mike Bolsinger, newly signed Dustin McGowan, and Joe Wieland among others, to go along with their cartoonish piles of money.

In a league where many teams scramble to find a reliable third arm for the rotation, worrying about the fifth starter qualifies as a first world problem.

*I would have signed McCarthy just for his Twitter feed, but it can be argued my priorities aren’t the same as the front office’s. 

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    1. Well, the line about him being “agitated” was more colorful originally, too… 🙂


  1. The problem with the assertion that the playoffs are more about the one-swing differential is that the Dodgers lost to the Cards mostly because of pitching and manufactured runs. They weren’t home run derbies, but the Cards put up strings of hits that helped them put runners in position and score runs. Yes, the increased defense will eliminate some of those, but Grandal, Kendrick, and Rollins are no slouches at the plate. I honestly believe this is going to be a team more about the manufactured runs/small ball. Less RISP, which KILLED the Dodgers last year.

    1. Fair. Point wasn’t that there’s no value in timely hitting or manufactured runs in the postseason, just that home runs become more valuable. Look at KC — not a power team by any stretch, but got HUGE home runs throughout. Same for SF. HR derby isn’t it. It’s more like one big HR… and that’s it. Statistically, at least, one-swing power has incredible value in the postseason.


      1. Totally agree that they ARE more valuable because they’re harder to get. I think a lot of focus this season will be on how to get Puig to stay out of his own way, Kershaw to not pressure himself so much, Kershaw to get a little more rest before the playoffs, and the bullpen to perform better. Bullpen and RISP were definitely killers last season, and with the moves made this year I think (well, i HOPE) there’s going to be less issue with that.

        No matter what, this is going to be a very exciting season. I’m stoked for all of the new faces and to see how everything unfolds!

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