The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have a deep starting rotation to look forward to next season. With so much depth, a six-man rotation is definitely a possibility.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were potentially going to lose two solid starting pitchers during the offseason. Clayton Kershaw had an opt-out clause in his contract and Hyun-Jin Ryu was set to be a free agent.
Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to reach an agreement on a three-year, $93 million contract with a chance to earn up to $5.5 million in incentives each season.
Ryu, meanwhile, accepted the $17.9 million qualifying offer that the Dodgers extended to him. Now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitching that should be great for long-term success in the regular season.
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Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the four obvious choices for the starting rotation. From there, Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Dennis Santana could all fill in the fifth spot.
Personally, I want to see Urias fill in the fifth spot in the rotation. Urias has so much potential and could one day be a frontline ace and even a legitimate Cy Young-caliber pitcher. The idea that the Dodgers could have Urias and Buehler carry the load after Kershaw leaves.
It is going to be a challenge to find a role for all of these guys. You could send someone like Santana down to triple-A and Maeda can be a full-time bullpen arm. However, when it comes to Urias, Wood and Stripling, they really have to have one set role to be successful.
There is a huge difference in how you prepare as a reliever and a starter and constantly shuffling pitchers from the starting rotation to the bullpen can hurt the results, hence why Alex Wood was not great in the bullpen and Ross Stripling fizzled out late in the season.
Instead of creating more problems then are there, the Los Angeles Dodgers should go the unconventional route and run a six-man rotation. They certainly have the talent to do so and everyone in the rotation would benefit from it.
Let’s say the Dodgers go with Urias and Wood in the fifth and sixth spots. The Dodgers could transition Maeda and Stripling to full-time relievers (and would have the depth to keep them from starting) and can send Santana to triple-A to rehab his injuries and provide as an emergency option if someone gets hurt.
Kershaw could use the extra rest to keep his workload down and prevent any other injury trouble, Buehler could benefit as a young arm, Hill could benefit to keep the blisters down and Ryu would benefit from re-sparking an injury-prone career.
The two added arms, Urias and Wood, also have their own reasons to be in a six-man rotation. Urias is still coming off shoulder surgery and the Dodgers are going to want to ease him into things without having to use him as a reliever.
Wood, meanwhile, showed in 2017 that he has the potential to be an elite pitcher. However, he eventually fizzled out due to his workload and could be much better with an extra day of rest every start.
At full strength, this is a six-man rotation that is full of elite arms that could be one of the best rotations of recent memory.