The Los Angeles Dodgers enter 2017 as a well-built team. The lineup is impressive, featuring Corey Seager and Joc Pederson. The rotation is even more impressive, featuring one of the greatest pitchers of this era. What are the expectations for the Dodgers this season? How far can they realistically go? With the talent that the team has in place, they have a shot at getting to the World Series.
Like almost every other team in the league, they are going to need to stay healthy to do that. Last season saw some injuries for the starting pitching. Now that a new season is underway, the rotation looks to stay healthy. Here’s what the LA Dodgers projected rotation looks like for 2017.
- Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw cannot have any more downfalls if the LA Dodgers expect to make it to the World Series. Only time will tell if he has fully recovered from his back injury, and can become his former self again. Despite the injury, Kershaw had a 1.69 ERA in his 21 starts. He also had three complete game shutouts. However, once he returned from injury in September, his performance was questionable. He had one sensational start against the Chicago Cubs during the post-season. His second start, though, well, it was terrible. There is no doubt that the Dodgers are concerned about his long-term reliability, based on his back injury.
- Kenta Maeda
In 175.2 innings pitched, over the course of 32 games, Kenta Maeda had a solid 3.48 ERA. He is yet another reliable, impressive pitcher within this deep Dodgers staff. As the clear number two starter, the Dodgers should work towards preparing Maeda to toss over 200 innings this season. The club needs him to be able to pitch as many innings as possible in each and every start. But, he has to do it in a quality fashion. Maeda appeared to be worn out by the end of last season, so there will be a delicate balance to seeing him go deep in games, yet stay fresh enough for post-season play.
- Rich Hill
Rich Hill earned his spot in the starting rotation last season when he impressed baseball fans everywhere with an amazing performance in Game three of the NLCS. He held the Chicago Cubs scoreless across six innings. It was quite an achievement for someone who was playing independent ball during the first half of 2015. To be honest, at 36 years old, Hill doesn’t have many more years left. The Dodgers have to do everything they can to milk every last inning out of him. He will be a key piece to their postseason adventure.
- Julio Urias
There is going to be a science to using Julio Urias this season. He’s just 20 years old, and the Dodgers cannot wear him out too early in his career. He will make the starting rotation come Opening Day, but expect to see him get a fair amount of rest throughout the regular season. As deep as the starting pitching roster is for the Dodgers, there won’t be any issues getting him some off time. The expectations are high for Urias, as he’s had good numbers in both Minor League and Major League appearances.
- Scott Kazmir
Scott Kazmir was absent in the last part of 2016. Thoracic inflammation led to him only seeing one start after August 22. He will need to prove his stamina and health if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. As stated before, the depth at pitching for the Dodgers is enormous. But with Kazmir’s experience in the game, and proven reliability (when healthy), he can easily hold down the number five slot. However, should the Dodgers have any doubts, or should he face injury again, Scott Kazmir may find himself out of a starting job.