MLB Los Angeles Dodgers

Predicting Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2014 Starting Rotation

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Predicting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2014 Starting Rotation

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2014 season with the same nucleus of pitchers that ended the 2013 season for the most part, only vacating the final two spots of the rotation to free agency. Ricky Nolasco was the first to go. Granted free agency by the Dodgers, Nolasco struck a deal with the Minnesota Twins in December. Chris Capuano also departed via free agency, only to sign a deal with the Boston Red Sox a few days ago. Admittedly, they weren't in the Dodgers' long term plans [obviously].

This leaves two spots open to be filled. The Dodgers made a move in the off-season to acquire a starting pitcher to fill one of the spots, and are hoping that the fifth, and final spot in the rotation can be filled internally. Chad Billingsley was in the running to compete for this job, but that thought was killed when he underwent surgery on his right elbow. There are still a few options on the table in a proven veteran and a guy with experience from last season as well.

All said, the Dodgers have about $60-$70 million tied up in their starting rotation, which is more than the entire payroll of some of the small market teams. The Dodgers are working with the largest payroll in all of professional baseball, and it's only going to increase from here, especially when Clayton Kershaw's mega-deal goes into effect.

At any rate, let's have a look at the 2014 Los Angeles Dodgers' predicted starting rotation.

Vinny Gala is a baseball contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.

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1. Clayton Kershaw

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers' $30 million man and reigning Cy Young Award winner amassed a record of 16-9 and a minuscule ERA of 1.83 in 33 starts. In addition, he was a work horse, logging 236 innings of work -- a team high.

He's the best pitcher in baseball. Enough said.

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2. Zack Greinke

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Greinke posted a 15-4 record and a 2.63 ERA over 28 starts. Though his career numbers don't show it (mainly as a result of the teams he played for) Greinke is a proven top of the rotation starting pitcher going into his eleventh season of professional baseball. That's why he gets the #2 spot ahead of Ryu.

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3. Hyun-Jin Ryu

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Hyun-Jin Ryu is in his second season in Dodger blue after making his professional debut last season. Ryu started 30 games in 2013, posting a 14-8 record and a 3.00 ERA, while logging 192 innings. Ryu finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting.

The Dodgers have him locked up through the 2018 season, so this guy has nowhere to go but up.

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4. Dan Haren

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Haren was acquired by the Dodgers in November, signing a two-year $20 million deal (well, 2015 automatically becomes vested if he pitches 180 innings in 2014). Haren is coming off of a season that saw him go 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA in 30 starts. If he can find his way to the Dan Haren of old -- that is, the guy who throws 200+ innings per season and and ERA around 3.50 -- he's probably going to be wearing at least one World Series ring when it's all said and done.

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5A. Josh Beckett

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Beckett used to be one of the best pitchers in baseball during the prime of his career -- around five years ago. Now, Beckett is a 34-year-old righty trying to earn the final spot in the rotation. His performance last season didn't do him any favors, with a near career-high ERA (5.19) and losing five games in eight starts.

That being said, Beckett is due to make $15.75 million this year, so he's probably going to get a serious look so the Dodgers don't see their ROI go down the tubes. Plus, the Dodgers don't really have a better defined option at this point.

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5B. Stephen Fife

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Fife is a decent option for the fifth spot in the rotation with some pretty good upside. Starting ten games in 2013, Fife posted a 4-4 record and an ERA of 3.86. He has some control issues and his walks tend to climb higher than he would like, but if he can improve and demonstrate he can handle the workload, he's your fifth. Counting his minor league experience, he's not thrown above 160 innings in a single season.