Will the Dodgers rotation hold up in the playoffs?


The MLB regular season will conclude in the next two weeks and we have a pretty good idea which teams are going to make the playoffs. Barring any hot streaks or horrific droughts, the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Tigers, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies should all advance. (Perhaps the Twins will make a run if Michael Cuddyer keeps hitting like Babe Ruth.) While all these teams have the bats, ask any manager and they’ll tell you that it’s their rotation that wins a series.

Neither of these clubs currently have a perfect starting four, but it’s the Dodgers that should be freaking out. After posting the best record in the National League for almost the entire season, Chad Billingsley has been demoted to the bullpen, Clayton Kershaw has a shoulder injury (non-pitching), and Hiroki Kuroda is trying to right himself after taking a line drive to the skull last month.

The most consistent teams in the regular season — the ones with good records and rested bullpens — tend to have three or four pitchers with at least 30 starts.

When the season ends in 14 days, the Dodgers may have only two.

This month, the mix-and-match Dodgers have relied heavily on two starters, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, who arrived after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And the key starters Colletti mentioned have missed at least one start apiece in recent weeks: Wolf, Kuroda and Kershaw because of injuries; Billingsley because of inconsistent performance and waning confidence.

Twelve pitchers have started three or more games for the Dodgers this season. Twelve. That’s a statistic one would expect from an also-ran, not a near-certain playoff team. But Padilla and Garland have performed beyond expectations, with a 6-0 record and 2.65 ERA over nine combined starts through Saturday.

The Dodgers are very fortunate to have landed Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland. Though both were having mediocre seasons on their prior teams, they are shining with the Boys in Blue and may very will be the key to the Dodgers’ postseason success. Fans were initially skeptical about former Giants Assistant GM Ned Colletti coming aboard, but he’s proven to be the savviest general manager the Dodgers have had in years. As far as pitching is concerned, Colletti picked up George Sherrill, Padilla, and Garland late into the season — all have been solid. And who would have expected Randy Wolf to evolve into the team’s ace? Wolf, who previously played for the Dodgers in 2007, had his best season with the Phillies in ’03, then struggled to regain his prowess. Still, Colletti must have seen something in Wolf this past offseason because, with a 10-6 record and 3.24 ERA, he’s surprising everyone. Expect Wolf to start the first game of the NLDS. After that, it’s anybody’s guess who the Dodgers will look to.

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