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.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2009 MLB Preview: #10 Los Angeles Dodgers

Click Here to see Previews of all 30 MLB Teams

Offseason Movement: The Dodgers were mostly quiet this offseason outside of adding Orlando Hudson, Guillermo Mota and Randy Wolf. Oh yeah, and after 4,958 days of painful back and forth negotiating, L.A. GM Ned Colleti was able to re-sign outfielder Manny Ramirez to a two-year deal.

Top Prospect: James McDonald, RHP
The Dodgers have a couple of top prospects, including OF/1B Andrew Lambo and INF Ivan DeJesus Jr., but McDonald is the closest to making the big league roster. The club has been in search for a fifth starter all spring and they could tab McDonald for the role if he continues to pitch well in exhibition games. McDonald doesn’t overpower hitters (his fastball only tops out at 92 mph), but he has a nasty curveball and his command is solid as well. It’ll be interesting to see if L.A. gives the 24-year old the fifth spot in the rotation or sends him down to Triple-A for more seasoning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hot Stove League: Manny Still Team-less

Among all the moves, be they trades or free agent signings, the biggest non-signing of the MLB Hot Stove off-season has been that Manny Ramirez remains without a team. Actually he hasn’t even had an offer besides the Dodgers’ two-year, $45 million offer back in November. But last night, the Dodgers and beleaguered outfielder Andruw Jones (*) parted ways, freeing up some more money on their payroll to offer Ramirez. Manny fits well on that team and with Joe Torre’s easy demeanor. And he can loaf a bit more in between raking the ball all over Dodger Stadium. We’ll see, but with the Yanks signing Mark Teixeira, and the Angels focusing on their bullpen by signing Brian Fuentes, there are less attractive options for Manny other than remaining in La La Land.

In addition to the Teixeira Fuentes signings, Randy Johnson was inked by the Giants. This works out well for the Big Unit, who wanted to play in California and can easily reach 300 victories since he currently has 295. If only Barry Zito started pitching like Oakland Barry Zito, this staff would be looking damn good right now.

So one of the problems with the stalled Jake Peavy to Chicago trade talks was that the Padres wanted infielder Mark DeRosa and Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry balked at that. Well, Hendry had no problem shipping DeRosa to Cleveland for three minor leaguers, did he? I think there is more to that Peavy story than what we’re being told. I don’t know what, but somebody doesn’t like somebody somewhere, and my guess is there is an agent in that conversation.

So Derek Lowe doesn’t want to pitch for the Mets at three years, $36 million? Are you kidding me? How is that guy worth more than $12 million per season at 35 years old? Dude apparently wants a four or five year, $90 million deal. Good luck with that, Derek. Meanwhile the Mets are turning their attention back to in-house free agents Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez, as well as less expensive options like Jon Garland or Randy Wolf.

* Omar Minaya, if you are reading this, DO NOT invite Jones to spring training. I know the Dodgers are paying his way in 2009, but the guy can’t hit his way out of a paper bag (the stats don’t lie…..158 batting average with 76 strikeouts in just 209 at-bats). Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Related Posts