Health Concerns Over Zack Greinke Gives Los Angeles Dodgers Slight Reprieve From Rotation Logjam

By Thom Tsang
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently going through an injury scare involving the elbow of the team’s $147 million man, Zack Greinke, is nothing even close to resembling good news.

Less obvious, however, is that the team may at least find an opportunity to delay having to deal with one of their most pressing problems — the current logjam in the starting rotation.

It’s a small consolation, yes, but given the severity of what the team might be facing if Greinke has to miss significant time (over a month, for example), the fact that they’ve carried what is otherwise a desirable problem into Spring Training could actually work out for them, in a somewhat backwards kind of way.

Right now, the team is at that time in spring where they have to really start ramping up the innings of their potential starters, and that means some significant decisions will have to be made.

Only ace Clayton Kershaw and newcomer Hyun-Jin Ryu have pitched over 10 Cactus League innings thus far, with the Dodgers’ having a full complement of five starters behind them, in addition to the injured Greinke. Had things stayed the way they’ve been, it would have been likely that the team would have been forced to move someone, likely either (or both) Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang, by the time Opening Day comes around.

Now, with Greinke potentially out, the Dodgers unexpected find themselves not having to do so … just yet.

Ted Lilly is pitching on Sunday, but if it’s deemed that his shoulder isn’t quite there, he could be placed on the DL. Ditto Greinke, if he doesn’t resume throwing in the near-term and will need some time to get up to speed. That leaves Capuano and Harang, the former of which has already said he doesn’t mind pitching as the long man out of the bullpen (whether there’s room there is another story).

It could leave the Dodgers in the position to open the season with a starting five of Kershaw, Ryu, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and Harang.

That’s not nearly as good as having Greinke slotted in the No. 2 spot, but it’s far from a terrible rotation either.

Moreover, it would buy the Dodgers some time to see if they can glean some answers from the question marks in that group — things like if Billingsley’s PRP-bolstered ligament is going to hold up, and Lilly’s shoulder. They have the depth available now to leave themselves too thin, but that might not have happened if things were status quo otherwise.

Not that it’s a good thing, of course, but considering the magnitude of potentially losing a pitcher like Greinke, the Dodgers are still far from a worst-case scenario. At least it’s happening now and not in June, when they might not have the same resources available to deal with it.

And that’s at least … something, I suppose.

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