It Could Be a Logjam!

I’m talking about the Dodgers 2017 starting rotation.  

Much has been written about the staff and many fans assume that guys like Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who have extensive injury histories will just be injured again… and they may be right, but I happen to feel the odds are against that.  Then again, the odds were against the Dodgers having more injuries than a Chicago Emergency Room on a Saturday Night and then coming back to almost get to the World Series.

Yeah, maybe none of those guys will be healthy and maybe they will all end up on the disabled list.  However, by all first reports, all three pitchers are throwing free and easy.  It is possible that all three may be ready, willing and able come opening day.  Then what?  OK, let’s see, Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias are also all ready willing and able to start the season in the rotation.  Then there is Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood who all started last year and are very viable options this season.

That’s 10 (count ’em, ten) possible starters.  Wood, Stripling, Urias and Stewart can be optioned, but I do not think Urias will be optioned.  It sends the wrong message to a guy who will be the Dodgers #2 THIS YEAR!  That’s a whole another issue:  How do you limit his innings?   That’s the real question.  Rich Hill was remarkable… and injured last year.  I would not bet he would make 32 starts this year, but I think it might be more than 25.

We have all heard that Kenta Maeda’s arm is likely to fall off, but it is actually still attached, the last time I checked.  Here’s the deal: I have REPEATEDLY found that conventional wisdom (or cynicism) is usually wrong.  If you believe the injury bug will continue to plague the Dodgers, I think you are going to be sorely mistaken.  What if Wood, McCarthy, Ryu and Kazmir are all healthy?  Look, all four are quality pitchers and there are many teams that needs quality pitchers.

The Dodgers could trade a healthy Ryu, McCarthy, Kazmir and Wood in packages with players like Gonzalez and Ethier for more prospects. Now, I would believe that if all the pitchers I mentioned are healthy, it would be a miracle… but it is possible.

Here’s the truth: There could be some trades, this spring or at the All-Star Break… or anytime in-between.  I confess that I do not have a clue what that trade will be. These guys are not afraid to flip players in a month or more, but if you think that there is no market for Wood, Ryu, McCarthy or Kazmir (if they are healthy), you have not been paying attention ton the state of starting rotations in MLB.

All I know is that Kershaw, Hill, Maeda and Urias are a formidable staff.. and there are six other pitchers to fill that number 5 position!  I like the odds that we will find at least one good one… and WOW!!!  There could be some major trades.  Maybe, just maybe Wood, Stripling, Stewart and Urias all get optioned and Hill and Maeda are on the DL to start the season, because of shin splints (or some other aberration).

Could this be the rotation to start the season?

  1. Kershaw
  2. Ryu
  3. Kazmir
  4. McCarthy
  5. Wood

I know – you think I am crazy!  Like a fox.  Expect the unexpected.  This is not a prediction, just an exercise in thinking!

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Posted by Mark Timmons

I started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. I took a year off in 2016 and now I am back. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. I don't do game recaps or in-depth sabermetric analysis. I value sabermetrics, but leave that to people smarter than me... which is only 98% of the population. This is where you start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome!

This article has 38 Comments

  1. We are about to have a much better idea as to who is the real deal. I really like our young core of Seager, Pederson, and Urias and I think we will soon know if Bellinger, Buehler, Alvaarez, Toles, Verdugo, Puig, Calhoun will join that young core for many years.
    .
    I will venture to guess that Verdugo and Calhoun are more likely to be traded for a player that would join the young core the Dodgers otherwise now have in their organization. The depth Mark identified hopefully will also be used to add to that young core. My preference is that the Dodgers will not need McCarthy, Kazmir, Gonzales, Ryu, and Ethier and that those players have enough value to build core.
    .
    I also have hopes for Thompson. If his back fully heals and his start to last year is the real Thompson and the bad Thompson was due to injury, then I think the Dodgers have 4 young outfielders in Puig, Thompson, Toles, and Pederson that could be a long-term outfield core.

  2. Bum, I’d agree with you on trading Verdugo and/or Calhoun for the SOLE REASON that we need a big time rightie bat to go with Seager, Joc, and Bellinger.

    Mark do I always have to answer this calculus equation below my name and email to be able to post?? I”m not a smart man, Jennie!!!

  3. I agree with Bum – the Dodgers will flip veterans for prospects.
    .
    They have some additional pitching depth in the minors besides the ones mentioned. In addition to Wood, Strip and Stewart, they’ve got Trevor Oaks, Josh Sborz, Walker Buehler, and Jordan Sheffield. Most are projected for 2018 ETA but it’s possible that one of these guys will break out this year and contribute innings for the big club. In other words, with all the young arms available the Dodgers should have enough to fill out their 5-man rotation and keep some spares to backfill in case of injury. That leaves Kazmir, Ryu and McCarthy available to be traded. I think at least one of them will come out of Spring Training performing well enough to draw interest from other clubs.

  4. Let’s spice things up…How about Kazmir and $10 million for Betances? If you don’t like that, how about Kazmir and Wood for Betances?

    1. The Yankees do have Chapman as their closer again and Betances is their set-up guy that is probably a little irked with the Yankees owner after the comments he made after the arbitration hearing. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/02/dellin-betances-arbitration-case-and-the-value-of-closing.html

      First paragraph from the link above: The baseball world is abuzz about the controversial recent comments of Yankees president Randy Levine, who criticized Dellin Betances’ $5MM filing in his losing arbitration case this past week. After emerging victorious in arbitration, Levine described the filing as a “half-baked attempt” to “change a well-established market” for setup men, further noting that Betances was not a closer — the reliever type that typically commands big arbitration salaries — any more than Levine himself was an astronaut.
      .
      The Yankees need starting pitching and the Dodgers can afford to help them and it would be nice to swap a slow-up-the-game Baez +? for Betances.

  5. To be honest, Dodger baseball seeming almost insignificant with what’s going on these days. Wonder what Koufax thinks…or what Jackie Robinson would of thought……

    1. Not sure what you are referring to but if it’s political, we don’t talk about it here. This is Dodger baseball and that is reality!

  6. I hear Betances could be on the trading block and the Yankees are looking for another quality starter. The offer of Kazmir and Wood for Betances works for the Dodgers. But I think the Yankees have other trade options that might be more attractive.

  7. Hello K27

    I think FAZ definitely keep AGon this year, especially if they are in contention at the TD. The vibe is that there is a belief in the camp that this is the year.
    The signing of Utley suggests that they value veteran leadership, and throughout his tenure, AGon has given that. Also, like Utley mentored Seagar, then Adrian can mentor Belinger.
    However, I do agree that if someone will take Ethier then he will be gone.

    Interesting article

    http://dodgerblue.com/dodgers-news-chase-utley-humbled-clayton-kershaw-corey-seager-widespread-adulation/2017/02/20/

    1. Good point about AGON. He is also a big draw for ticket sales to a very loyal base of Dodgers fans. Not sure if Friedman factors this in to his decision making – he definitely did not have this consideration while in Tampa.

    2. Watford

      Exactly Agone isn’t going to be traded this year, and Bellinger still needs to prove he can hit, AAA pitching.

      They didn’t bring Corey up, when Rollins, continued to hit close to the mendosa line, and Corey was one of the highest prospects, in all of baseball.

      And Agone is not going to be traded or moved, until at least next year, and even then, it isn’t going to happen, if the Dodgers are in the win now, mode.

      And even though Bellinger is a very good defensive first basemen, he could still learn a lot from Agone,
      who has been a very good RBI guy, throughout his career.

      I know Mark has said one of McCarthy, Kazmir, Ryu, and Wood, should be able to step up and be our fifth starter.

      I think Wood would have no problem doing job, and if Ryu is able, he will difinitly get out there, and do the job.

      But we should expect more, from both McCarthy and Kazmir, who are making more money.

      They can at least get out there, and do there jobs, so at least the Dodgers, can possibly trade them.

      McCarthy hasn’t managed to get off the bench much, since he joined this team, and Kazmir, doesn’t really want to be on the team, but he couldn’t opt out, because of his injury problems, and his ineffectiveness.

      And Bobby I thought Mark put the math in here, for me!

  8. I know I’m greedy, but I agree with Box in that news that Blanton had signed a one year deal would be the icing on the cake.
    I can’t help but have a feeling of unease about handing the ball to Baez in the 8th. TBH I’m not sold on him.
    A combination of Pancakes & Romo is much better.

    Can’t wait for it to get started, and am feeling more optimistic than I have in years.
    In fact, I’ve doubled my yearly bet on the Dodgers. Time to recover some of my loses.
    The odds are 12/1 here which are better odds than in the US.

  9. I know that I run the risk of being dubbed “negative”, but here goes:

    I expect that Kazmir will be relatively healthy and more effective this year than last but I have read rumblings that he was unhappy in LA last year. I have expected the Dodgers to trade a veteran or 2 for salary relief and to clear up roster spots and Kazmir is one of the most moveable. I expect that he will start the season in the rotation but that he is a candidate for a trade once he establishes that he can pitch effectively.

    I really see McCarthy more as a reliever at this point in his career – if he can recover from the yips. Maybe he has a better chance to stay healthy if he pitches an inning every other day than if he throws 5 innings every 5 days and his stuff will probably be pretty good in short relief. In fact, I see him as a possible 8th inning guy, but predict another DL stay for him if he is a starter (I know, not a tough prediction).

    We have no idea at all whether Ryu can ever pitch effectively again. Labral tears are very tough to recover from and he’s had 2 surgeries in 2 years. If he can, great but it’s tough to bank on him.

    I expect Wood to start the season in the ‘pen – it’s a numbers game. He will probably be needed in the rotation at some point though.

    I figure Hill for 20 starts and Urias for maybe 25. If the Dodgers get full seasons from Maeda and Kershaw (32 starts each) that’s 109, meaning they will need another 53 starts from among Kazmir, McCarthy, Wood, Ryu, Stripling, Stewart and anyone else they can find in the minors who might be ready. If they hold Urias back from the opening day roster to keep his innings down then maybe they open with Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Kazmir and Wood in the rotation.

    Again, the Braintrust gets kudos from everyone because of “depth” but I would rather have 5 guys to take the ball every 5 days and not spend most of the season on the DL. It isn’t depth if they can’t pitch – it’s guys on the DL.

    As to some of the trade ideas, the Yankees aren’t dumb enough to trade a young stud pitcher like Betances for a broken down guy like Kazmir. Remember – if you wouldn’t make the deal if you were they Yankees, they aren’t likely to do it either.

    1. I don’t know what’s negative about that.
      .
      I’m sure Kazmir wanted to be traded. Here he has to compete for a spot, elsewhere it would be his. You theorize about the best case, let’s hope that happens.
      .
      I’ve never heard anything, I mean anything, about McCarthy being in the bullpen.
      .
      I think you might be a little low with Hill’s starts, but who cares about the regular season? His value should come in the playoffs.
      .
      You, me, Friedman, Farhan, Byrnes, Alex A, Roberts, every other GM and even Tommy Lasorda probably want 5 guys to take the ball every 5 days. But you almost never get that.

      1. Bluto

        Do you remember when McCarthy, came into the game, in the last series, against the Giants?

        He came in, and gave up quite a few runs, and couldn’t even get a single out.

        Finally Roberts, had to go out there, and get McCarthy out of the game.

        1. I don’t remember that, nor do I remember anything around it that implied he would be moving to the pen in the future.

          I could easily be wrong. Again.

          1. I am not saying he will go to the pen, but I have suggested it. Just an idea. However, BRandon McCarthy came off the DL and started against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium on July 3, 2016. He was dominant as he pitched 5 innings, allowed 2 hits and 0 runs while striking out 8 and walking 1.

            For July, he was 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA – 26 IP/13 Hits/33 K/9 BB.

            Some people say he got the yips in August, but I don’t think that was it. He was compensating for something… not his arm.

      2. Bluto

        I think the front office signed Hill, not expecting him, to make everyone of his starts.

        And with the pitching depth, there shouldn’t be a problem.

        And Rick is right, why would the Yankees to those deals?

        We wouldn’t!

  10. Moseley has always had control problems, even in college. The pitching coaches will have their hands full. Or is this just another throw-away?

    1. A lot of people thought the same about Jake Arrieta! you just keep making the deals – some are good, Some aren’t!

      1. Well, the Braintrust will definitely accommodate your desire for trades. I just thought about the recent roster churn – Ellis for Ruiz, Ruiz for Nuno, and now Nuno for Moseley. I get that they wanted Ruiz’ bat down the stretch and dumped him (a salary dump) this offseason, but really, what did all of this churn accomplish? And what are the odds that Moseley ever wears Dodger Blue?

        1. The odds are long. He has a live arm, but poor control. He is a project. Sometimes the light comes on at some point. Josh Ravin was 28. Moseley is 22. Sometimes it never comes on.

          They wanted Ellis gone – not totally sure why, but I am fine with it.
          They wanted Ruiz bat and experience last year.
          They now want Barnes. Maybe they didn’t think he was ready last year.
          Nuno was a piece. Moseley is another piece.
          I have no opinion, but I suspect he has something they like.
          I don’t get worked up over this kind of stuff.

          1. I really disliked trading Ellis. The only barely acceptable reason I can stomach for his trade is that his pitching game plan differed from Honneycut’s.

    1. I didn’t know that, but I didn’t say he signed

      It must be the Texas connection.

      He came from same high school, as Dustin May.

      I thought maybe he had a good spin rate, is since they have looked at that a lot.

  11. Definitely a log jam at starting pitcher. I’m not super concerned about the starting 5 at the start. However, I know what I would like to see consistently for the second half of the season and into the playoffs . . . Kershaw, Hill, then a righty, either Maeda, McCarthy, Stripling, Stewart or Oaks), Urias and Wood (or one of the left over right handers). Unless Kazmir is lights out, I would look to move him. He doesn’t strike me as a bull pen guy, so unless he’s dealing, he’s a wasted space in my view. Without injuries my bold predictions for wins by the starting pitchers are:
    Kershaw (20- 4); Hill (16-7); Maeda (13-10); Urias (10-6); Wood (11-7); Stewart (5-3); Kazmir (4-5); Stripling (6-2); Mcarthy (9-8 or who knows) ; and Oaks (3-1). I’m not counting on Ryu,though I would love it if he had a successful return. I know that’s far too many wins for the starters, but why not? It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to send the Cubs on another 108 year spiral and then whoop on the Yankees or Red Sox in the Series.

    Just woke up from my nap, and I could hear Jm Croce’s “Dreaming Again” playing in my mind. 🙂

  12. What’s the problem? Trade Ellis and his .194 BA for a playoff run with Ruiz. I seem to remember a very timely playoff home run from Ruiz. After season, wanting to get younger (and maybe better) and definitely cheaper with Barnes, trade Ruiz for Nuno. Nuno adds a lefty reliever to the trade piece inventory for a few months. Need a roster spot trade him, and his salary, for 22yr old Moseley.

    From mlb.com last June

    “A catcher early in his prep career, Moseley didn’t become a full-time pitcher until he was a senior in 2013 but quickly showed top-five-rounds upside on the mound. He slid to the Rays in the 36th round because he was set on attending Texas Tech, where he moved into the rotation late in his freshman year and didn’t allow an earned run in four NCAA playoff starts as the Red Raiders advanced to the College World Series. His solid sophomore season and spectacular fall had scouts thinking he’d emerge as a first-round pick this June, but he lasted just three starts this spring before getting pulled from the rotation. There’s no doubt that Moseley has enough pitches to start. His primary weapon is a 91-95 mph fastball with power sink. Both of his low-80s secondary pitches can be at least above-average offerings at their best, with his lively changeup more consistent than his slider. The problem is that Moseley’s control and command aren’t sharp, which gets him in trouble because he’s more hittable than he should be and runs up his pitch counts too quickly. His stuff is more electric in shorter stints, so he could become a high-leverage reliever in the big leagues, but pro clubs aren’t ready to give up on him as a starter.”

    I know less than 50% of prospects make it to MLB, but not bad!

    1. Boxout

      It sure does make sense, and Friedman drafted him first.

      And it kind of sounds like Brock Stewart’s begining.

  13. I actually like the idea of both McCarthy and Wood in the bullpen. Good arms; different angles. Solid stuff.

  14. THE LA TIMES has a good write up about Kazmir’s issues last year and why it might change this year:
    .
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-20170220-story.html
    .
    This could bode well for the team.
    .
    When players have a bad year, many fans want to “throw the baby-out-with-the-bathwater.”
    .
    The flavors of the week have been Kazmir, McCarthy and Hernandez.

    I would not be the least bit surprised is all three bounce back and have nice years. There are certainly endless possibilities.

  15. I liked what Wood had to say after his first outing against hitters yesterday. If he continues to look sharp in spring he could either make the rotation and give the team another young arm or he could be the young pitcher that other teams want in their rotation.
    .
    Betances might be available but he was not all that good last year and had only two good years (2014, 2015). If because his role in 2016 included more closer and he couldn’t handle it as well as he did as the setup guy, then he might not be able to handle the setup role in the high pressure playoffs.

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