Starting Rotation in 2021 Analysis

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021

Within two weeks, the Los Angeles Dodger pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Arizona for spring training in preparation for the 162-game season.

For the first time since 1989, the Dodgers will be defending their world championship. During the 2020-2021 offseason, the team has not acquired any big-name free agents. They have acquired two relievers coming off injuries and poor performances. President Andrew Friedman did re-sign right-handed reliever Blake Treinen to a two-year deal.

The Dodgers have lost Pedro Báez, Kiké Hernandez, and Joc Pederson to free agency. Everyone in Los Angeles is waiting on Justin Turner to decide whether he wants to stay or get a longer contract somewhere else.

With the San Diego Padres improving themselves greatly, the Dodgers will have a fierce battle to win their ninth consecutive National League Western Division title. On paper, the Dodgers still have the edge, but Friedman needs to get busy to strengthen his team.

The starting rotation appears to be above average, but it is not good enough in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler lead the rotation. Kershaw, turning 33 in March, has a long history of back problems, and they can flare up at any time. Buehler historically is a slow beginning to dominate the opponent.

While the Dodgers expect veteran left-handed starter David Price to return to the rotation after he did not perform in 2020 because of COVID, he might elect not to pitch in 2021 until the virus is much better under control. After not pitching competitively for the entire season, no one knows how he will perform in 2021. At 35, Price’s pitching skills probably are diminishing.

The World Series hero Julio Urìas should be poised for a tremendous season. He has all the skills to become an award-winning starter. However, he has a history of shoulder problems. He and the Dodgers hope the valuable shoulder will hold out for 200 or more innings during the 2021 season.

The Dodgers have two young starters named Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. They have shown glimpses of brilliance, but they need fine-tuning before they will be dominating Major-League starters. They tend to nibble with their breaking balls, which tend to hang and say, “Hit me!” In 2022, both May and Gonsolin should be excellent Major-League starters who can easily last six innings a start, but in 2021, they probably will have many short outings as they learn to attack the strike zone.


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