Sarah's Take: Dodgers' rotation well-stocked

Absence of Anderson won't be crushing blow as club has options

March 7th, 2016

Depth is the trend in baseball. Every team will experience injuries during the long season, and how they deal with them will determine whether they will go to the postseason.
When the Dodgers didn't go after a top-tier free-agent starting pitcher to replace Zack Greinke, most baseball people thought it was a cost-cutting move. Yes, the free-agent market didn't have many great starters, which drove up the prices, and the Dodgers wanted to lower their Major League-leading payroll. Without getting a great starting pitcher to replace Greinke, many Dodgers fans worry if their favorite team can maintain its dominance in the National League West.
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Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman instead chose to obtain depth for the starting rotation. While the media has praised the Dodgers for having the most depth in the Major Leagues, many question whether they have good enough everyday players to repeat as the NL West champions.
Already, the Dodgers' rotation depth is being challenged. On Thursday, Brett Anderson, the projected No. 3 starter, underwent back surgery to repair a bulging disk. In 2014, he had a similar surgery on the same disk. The occurrence of the same kind of back injury is rare, and general manager Farhan Zaidi isn't regretting re-signing Anderson, who may return as soon as June.
Most teams would be scrambling to find a satisfactory replacement, and Anderson's injury would be viewed as an obstacle to his team's chances of returning to the postseason. However, the Dodgers have many options to fill the starting role vacated by Anderson.
Kenta Maeda was projected to be the Dodgers' No. 4 starter this year. After signing an eight-year, $25 million contract, the club doesn't want to put too much pressure on the 27-year-old as he tries to adapt to baseball in the United States.
Maeda made his first start on Saturday and was impressive. Though not overpowering, he used all four pitches and changed speeds to keep the Arizona Diamondbacks off balance. Maeda displayed the perfect control that he was famous for in Japan. If he can adjust to the American throwing schedule quickly and remain healthy for the entire 2016 season, he will be an asset.
In January, the Dodgers signed Brandon Beachy to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. He is attempting to come back from his second Tommy John surgery. Last year, Beachy pitched in the Dodgers' organization and made one start at the Major League level. But during that start, he didn't do well. The Dodgers hope Beachy will perform better with another year removed from the surgery.
Carlos Frias is another candidate for the rotation. He was an outstanding hard-throwing rookie. With every start, Frias improved his control and pitch efficiency. If he hadn't injured his back, he would have started for the entire season. Entering Spring Training, the Dodgers wanted to use Frias as a long reliever, but with the injury to Anderson, he might have another opportunity to be a starter.
Since Mike Bolsinger doesn't throw 90-plus mph, he doesn't impress many. But in a few Major League starts in 2015, he was brilliant. Bolsinger needs to have pinpoint control of all his pitches to be successful. When his curveball has a sharp downward break and his slider has a sharp horizontal break, the opposition finds him almost unhittable. However, after last year's All-Star break, Bolsinger's curveball had a rolling action to it, so the opponents could hit it well. He began overthrowing, making him unable to change speeds and locate his pitches.
People within the Dodgers' organization have seemed to forget about Zach Lee, the club's top Draft pick in 2010. Although his development has been slower than the Dodgers envisioned, he has progressed satisfactorily. Lee started one Major League game, which was disastrous. He needs an opportunity to show what he can do during Spring Training.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, coming off major shoulder surgery, should return in May. The Dodgers want to make sure he is completely healthy, so they want to give him plenty of time to perform without competition or pressure. With the extra pitching depth provided by both Friedman and Zaidi, the Dodgers should survive Anderson's unfortunate back injury better than most teams.