The Dodgers boast one of the finest rotations in all of the MLB. As we move along with our analysis of the NL West, expect some real praise to issue with this installment.
Starting Pitching Rotation Analysis
Los Angeles Dodgers
Potential Rotation Alternatives
ADP designated by * indicates no reported ADP as of date of publication. Projections are based on a compilation of several sources (ZiPS, Oliver, Steamer, RotoChamp), given equal weight.
I am seeing Clayton Kershaw go in the first round of most drafts, and with good reason. Tossing 200+ innings and putting up superb peripherals together with top-notch strikeout numbers secures his position as the number one starting pitcher going off the board. Depending on the drafter, I’ve seen him go third overall, and I cannot for the life of me generate a decent argument against that approach. Of course, others did the same thing with Justin Verlander last season, and how did that work out? It is always a risk to draft a starting pitcher early (NEVER draft a closer in the early rounds), but Kershaw is as safe as they come.
The calf injury Greinke suffered early in the spring will conveniently keep him from appearing in either of the two early Australian games. He was quite open in his opposition to pitching “down under,” so lament the additional start opportunity, but realize that a healthy and happy Greinke is a great asset to have on your fantasy roster. A groundball pitcher that also generates significant strikeouts is nothing to sneeze at, and when you consider his peripheral numbers, you can understand why he is going in the early rounds of most drafts. If you do not want to risk an early pick on Kershaw, Yu Darvish or Felix Hernandez, then wait a bit and draft Greinke as your SP1.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was an unknown quality last season, but he did not disappoint those of us who were willing to take the leap of faith with him. His ratios were superb (3.14 K/BB and 2.30 BB/9) in 2013, which will help his owners to overlook his lack of strikeouts due to his low 90s fastball. He is locked in as the third starter in the Dodgers’ rotation and a good bet for nearly 200 IP and double-digit wins.
Dan Haren had a rough 2013, but moving to Dodger Stadium may be the tonic he needs to rebound. He has been allowing far too many homeruns over the past two seasons (1.43 and 1.49 in 2012 and 2013), but the friendlier confines in LA should help him recover from that flaw. His control is elite, and while he is not a hard thrower by any means, his K/BB ratio is excellent (4.87 in 2013). If he continues to last until the end of drafts, grab him as a flier and reap the benefits.
Josh Beckett’s 2013 season was a disappointment, suffering a finger injury then undergoing thoracic outlet surgery. He was placed on the DL to let his thumb heal, and is expected to be ready to demonstrate that the Dodgers were correct in adding him to their superb rotation after the first week of the season. I expect that if his health holds, the above projections will be his floor, not his ceiling. Another later round risk and reward pick that you should not forget about this draft season.
A sore elbow was not how Paul Maholm wanted to start the spring, but there ya go. His down time will impact his ability to impress and replace Beckett in the rotation. I see Maholm as rotation security for the Dodgers, someone to drop in for injury relief, assuming he can stay healthy, too. He is non-relevant for our fantasy purposes at this point.
Chad Billingsley is recovering from Tommy John surgery last April, and while he is progressing nicely, having been clocked at 91 MPH recently, he is not scheduled to return to active duty until mid season at the earliest. Should he get a clean bill of health, I like him more that Maholm as a spot starter/injury replacement. It would be wise not to forget about him during his rehab, but certainly do not draft him now, with the uncertainty concerning his date of return.
You will be hard pressed to find a better starting rotation to harvest for your fantasy needs, at least through the top 4 pitchers in the Dodgers’ staff. Kershaw may prove to be too costly for you to draft, but Greinke and Ryu offer excellent value where they sit in ADP presently and even Dan Haren has his attractiveness.
If you disagree with my assessments, or just want to discuss starting pitching, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy comments and am more than willing to engage in discussion about fantasy baseball, so feel free to write.