The Dodgers will be a contender to win it all, but without Zack Greinke, the task will be greater. We look at their starting pitching rotation, headed by Clayton Kershaw, one of the best.
The Wild Card Of the Staff
Usually when a player of any sport has an incentive clause in his contract, he somehow manages to provide extra effort and that's what the Dodgers will be hoping for from starter, Kenta Maeda, out of Japan.
Maeda, who is the only pitcher in Japan to pitch “The Pitching Triple Crown” has signed an 8- year, $25 million contract for L.A. and $10 million dollar in incentives alone.
Right away, this tells me that they're not convinced that he's the next Tanaka, but the potential is there. Maeda had a 97-67 record with a 2.39 ERA in his native Japan. At just 6 foot, 160 pounds, Maeda is known for throwing a nasty slider and Los Angeles will really be counting on Maeda to fill in for Zack Greinke because once you get past Kershaw, this is a solid rotation, but certainly not in the category of the Mets, or for that matter, the Cubs. Many pitchers coming from Japan have had a big build up and not lived up to the hype. Only time will tell if he will be worthy of our MLB picks.
Not His Best Season
Clayton Kershaw is coming off of a season in which he really was the #2 starter as Zack Greinke had an exceptional MVP-like year, but nonetheless, Kershaw went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 301 strikeouts.
For most pitchers, that would be considered a career year, but when a you're Clayton Kershaw, who is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball, it's merely average.
Let's also mention that Kershaw couldn't put the Dodgers over the top in the post-season. He's had such an exceptional career of 114-56 with a 2.43, everyone naturally assumes that Kershaw can do no wrong and although we're not focusing on the Dodgers offense, they need to provide this elite pitcher with some run support.
Knowing that he will have to shoulder the load without Greinke, look for Clayton Kershaw to have a huge season barring injury.
Another unknown will be fellow Texas-native and veteran, Scott Kazmir, and Kazmir will play a pivotal role in this rotation. When Kazmir started out his career, he was expected to be a pitcher on the level of Kershaw, but that didn't happen. Just the same, Kazmir has carved out a very solid 11 year major league career and is coming off of a losing season in which he didn't receive run support, but still managed to put up a very appealing 3.10 ERA for the Astros.
Opposing batters hit just .237 off the left-hander. If he can put up numbers similar to last season, the Dodgers would be ecstatic. Fans won't see Kazmir overworked, but he still has some gas left in the tank.
Los Angeles rounds out their starting rotation with Alex Wood (12-12, 3.84) and Brett Anderson (10-9, 3.69). Both pitchers can certainly get the job done, but are prone to giving up hits and that can cause major trouble. Last season, both pitchers allowed opposing hitters to hit over .270 against them and that's simply not good enough where reliability is concerned. While Maeda will answer a lot of questions, the Dodgers will certainly miss Zack Greinke and the MLB odds will show as much once sportsbooks release them.