Los Angeles Dodgers: Best Five Starting Pitchers
Los Angeles Dodgers: Who Are the Best Five Starting Pitchers?
There has been much-a-do about the Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitching rotation. I believe it is the best in Major League Baseball right now. A rotation of Clayton Kershaw (18-7, 2.65 ERA), Zack Greinke (15-10, 3.45 ERA), Josh Beckett (13-7, 3.26 ERA), Chad Billingsley (7-7, 3.61 ERA), $36 million Korean sensation Ryu Hyun-jin, and don’t forget about Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang.
Kershaw won the Cy Young in 2011 at 23. At 6’3” and 220 lbs., the big left handed pitcher is an imposing presence on the mound. His ERA in the last two years was 2.28 and 2.53, with 554 strikeouts. Kershaw has already been announced by manager Don Mattingly as the opening day starter in 2013, an honor the Ace has had for three consecutive years.
Greinke will be the second best pitcher on the Dodgers staff behind Kershaw, but Greinke will also be the best second best pitcher in MLB. He wants to win a World Series and so do the Dodgers. Greinke knew what he was doing when he signed, and the Dodgers knew what they were getting when they signed him. Now Greinke and the Dodgers could win it all.
The unknown commodity is Ryu. Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti said, “We are excited to welcome Hyun-Jin Ryu to Los Angeles and the United States, continuing the tradition of Korean pitchers with the Dodger organization.” Ryu is 6’2”, 215 lbs., and he has a fastball in the 95 MPH range. He also has a good curve ball, slider and a wicked changeup.
Fresh from Bean-town is Beckett. Many have been counting him out, but he can still throw in the 93 MPH range. He has a myriad of pitches: four seam, two seam, cut fastball, curveball, changeup, and he can throw a nasty slider. He is a former twenty game winner (2007) with the Boston Red Sox, and he has compiled 132 wins in 12 years. Beckett was an All-Star in 2007, 2009, and 2011. He seems to be exceptional every other year, and this is 2013.
Billingsley could very well be fifth starter. Any struggles for Billingsley, and he could be replaced by Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, or Aaron Harang. It’s amazing what the Dodgers did in just one year to their starting rotation. By bringing in all that talent, Billingsley went from a lock as a starter to a huge question mark. Add to that his last few years of barely breaking a .500 win percentage, and Billingsley must have a good year to stay in the starting five.
Billingsley has a sore hand. But because of off days, the Dodgers really don’t need their fifth starter for a few weeks. Billingsley will have time to heal, but he must have a good start to stay in the top five. He is signed through 2014 and he has great ability, but he must find his stuff and get back to his 16 win season of 2008.
At 6’5” and 225 lbs., this hard throwing right-hander is an imposing presence on the mound. Beckett has amazing talent. But with all the talent he has, can he handle it if manager Don Mattingly slides him to the fourth spot in the rotation? His struggles in Boston are hopefully behind him. If they are, he could reinvent himself in Los Angeles. He is set to pitch game 3 on April 3rd.
Playing for the South Korean national baseball team in the 2010 Asian Games, Ryu became the first pitcher to strike out 17 batters in a nine inning game. That’s pretty impressive for a 23 year old. He is mature and knew he wanted to play in the big leagues. The Dodgers saw that in him and wanted to get the deal done. Ryu's deal is for six years, and he received a $5 million signing bonus. Not bad for a man with no MLB experience. He is set to pitch game 2 on April 2nd.
In 2009, Greinke played for the Kansas City Royals, and he had his best year. Winning the American League Cy Young, he had a 2.16 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, with 242 SO and 51 BB. Yet the Royals record was 65-97. Greinke knows what it’s like to be the best player on a bad team. He understands at 29 years old that time is not on his side. His sore elbow this spring has moved him to fourth starter, but he will eventually be in the second slot.
The Dodgers are building a team and a talented pitching staff around a rising star whose career stats per nine innings tell the whole story. Kershaw’s SO/9 9.3, BB/9 3.3, H/9 7.0 and HR/9 .6 make him their Ace. The last two years, he has shown his ability with a 2011 Cy Young and 2012 Runner-up. He is the opening day starter on April 1st.