This is going to be the interesting one with a lot of stories. Will Kuroda or Broxton be back? Who will be the closer? Set-up man? Will Kuo regain his 2010 form?
Kershaw and Billingsley are the easy ones, that’s going to be the Dodgers 1-2 punch, even though Bills can be a bit erratic at times, he has a 3 year $30+ million dollar contract so he’s back. Lily will be back, and I may need to attend more games when he pitches as he’s 2-0 when I’ve attended a game he’s pitched in, although he gave me a scare last time.
The #4 and #5 are where it will be interesting, I feel that Nathan Eovaldi has really helped himself to at least the #5 next season. The other possibilities for the #4 or #5 spots are Dana Eveland, who hitters have figured out (again), John Ely who after being sent down last season when he started hot has been absolutely horrible, I think he lost his confidence a little as he used to pound the strike zone and now he’s walking people.
I’m really hoping that Kuroda decides to come back to the Dodgers for one more season because as he’s said “I’m here to win a World Series” and with the way the Dodgers played in the 2nd half, I believe they’re a hitter or two away from contender status and I think those hitters are already on the team (Ethier, Sands, Loney).
One last possibility is Jon Garland, even though he’s been hurt all year, he’s not finished as a pitcher. The Dodgers have a $1.5 million option on his for next season and that would be nothing for them to eat up for a guy who could give them a solid bottom of the rotation starter who regularly gets 6-8 innings in and with the way the infield might shape up next season, Garland could put up some really good numbers.
I really don’t see the Dodgers going after anyone special in the off-season to fill in the rotation, especially if Kuroda comes back, because there’s really no one there and they have so many in house options. Look for them to look at some older pitcher or previously washed up project who could contribute to the team via a minor league contract and make the team in spring training, Colletti is really good at that.
This will be the fun one. I expect the Dodgers to carry 13 position players (8 starters, 5 bench) and go with 12 pitchers, 4 of them will be full starters expecting to get 25+ starts and the other 8 will be spot starters, long relievers and other bullpen pitchers.
Long Relievers and Spot Starters (2 spots)
I expect this spot to include John Ely and another guy the Dodgers pick up from free agency for about $1-2 million. Others possibilities are Eovaldi and Eveland if the Dodgers don’t fully trust them in the rotation and want to pick up someone via free agency.
Middle Relievers (4 spots)
Cemented in for now are Guerrier, Elbert, and Lindbolm. Blake Hawksworth, who was signed to a minor league contract, should be back after being signed to a long term deal but who I think the Dodgers should let go due to what I now call “The Marlon Anderson” factor.
The Marlon Anderson factor is when you either bring someone in for a year, or trade for them, who then performs above their previous numbers and gets signed to a deal. (Edit: Juan Rivera is now added to this list)
As good as Colletti has been at bringing in one year wonders, and trading for guys who perform in the 2nd half, he’s also been good at resigning these guys or if they’re already under contract, keeping them and they stink it up next season. I think that Hawksworth will be one of those guys especially since he’s pitched 4.91 in the 2nd half of this season.
Kuo could be non-tendered but I don’t think they should let him go Kuo has been healthy every other year and when he’s healthy he’s nasty. Then again, they may feel they have a young left hander in Elbert who pitched well this season (2.56 ERA) and let Kuo go, which I think is the most likely to happen.
Broxton could be an option here if the Dodgers decide to take a flyer on him being healthy but don’t get your hopes up.
Set-Up (1 spot)
87 strikeouts in 47.1 innings…Kenley Jansen has solidified this spot. The converted catcher has a 0.96 ERA in the 2nd half this season, lowing his one 9+ ERA down to a respectable 3.10. Insanely enough, he didn’t give up a single earned run in June, July or August and only two this month. I’d say he should be closer if Guerra wasn’t so good but this is definitely Jansen’s to lose.
Closer (1 spot)
Generally young pitchers start to get figured out as the long season goes on as teams see them more and they start to tire, not so for young Guerra who has a 1.93 ERA in the 2nd half. In fact, he’s gotten better as the season’s gone on going from an opponent batting average of .303 in June, to .206 in July, .189 in August and .161 September.
Lastly he has a 2.59 ERA in non-save situations and 1.40 in save situations so he’s at his best as a closer rather than as a normal reliever. Lastly, even though he can be erratic at times, it’s that craziness that makes him fun and exciting to watch and like Jansen, this job is his to lose.
So in conclusion, The Dodgers top three starters, middle relievers, set up and closer are set in stone and the Dodgers need to figure out who will anchor the middle and back of the rotation along with their long reliever and spot starter.
Kuo and Broxton, who are both former All Stars will either be resigned for cheap or allowed to leave via free agency leaving open the door to the Scott Tollesons of the world to come in spring training and vie for a spot.
The Dodgers look to have one of the best if, not the best #1 starter in the National League and one of the most dynamic, talented bullpens in the whole league and it will definitely be a strength next season.