The Dodgers’ great gamble of 2015 is counting on healthy rotation

Dodgers Spring Baseball
Dodgers players warm up before the team’s first pitchers and catchers workout on Feb. 20.
(John Locher / AP)

Easy now, handle with care. Let’s be careful out there this spring, particularly with that Dodgers’ starting rotation.

Despite efforts, it’s proven impossible to throw accurately from the mound while in bubble wrap. What to do with these guys? They’re like your children. You love them, feed them right, make sure they get their proper training and exercise, but at some point you have to send them out into the world.

And then all bets are off. They take the ball, you take your chances.

That’s true of every rotation, of course, but perhaps much more so with the five pitchers the Dodgers are (cross those fingers now) planning to send out to pitch every fifth game.


The three returning starters all had health issues last season, and the two new guys – Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson – could be a walking Vitruvian Man of baseball injuries. And it’s not like there is a wealth of proven starters behind them.

It’s their great gamble of 2015. It could pay off big if McCarthy pitches like he did the second half and Anderson did to start 2012, assuming of course, both stay healthy.

McCarthy has had ongoing shoulder problems, a sore elbow and took an unfortunate line drive off the head, a blow that months later led to a scary seizure. Anderson has had Tommy John surgery, a fractured foot, broken finger and a herniated disk that required surgery.

Clayton Kershaw missed six weeks last year with a strained shoulder. Hyun-Jin Ryu went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. And Zack Greinke had starts pushed back a couple of times with a sore elbow. Then to start camp this spring, Greinke immediately had a lubricating injection in his elbow.


Coming to the rotation soon, duct tape and paper clips!

Arms and shoulders tend to become sore when you’re thrown 90-plus mph every five days over the course of six months, and every team has its share of oh-no moments. But the Dodgers are really rolling the dice – particularly on McCarthy and Anderson – because there is nothing close to an obvious guy behind them, ready to step into the rotation when somebody’s wing goes bad.

The Dodgers signed Brandon Beachy this week, which is swell, but he’s coming off his second Tommy John operation and the Dodgers don’t expect him to be available until mid-June. Those currently on the 40-man to pick from include Mike Bolsinger (1-6, 5.50 ERA with Arizona last season), Carlos Frias (1-1, 6.12 in 15 games, two starts), Zach Lee (7-13, 5.38 at triple A), Juan Nicasio (6-6, 5.38 with Colorado but slated to be a reliever), Chris Reed (4-11, 4.26 in minors) and Joe Wieland (1-4, 5.31 in nine career games with San Diego).

Then there are non-roster invites Erik Bedard (4-6, 4.76 for Tampa Bay) and David Huff (4-1, 3.36 but all in relief for Giants and Yankees).

See anything there to ease the anxiety?

The planned starting five best produce and remain healthy. And the chances of all five staying healthy are next to nothing. It should be interesting, but the Dodgers better hope it doesn’t get real interesting.