Dodgers’ 2021 Preview: Starting Pitchers (m.mlb.com)

With Spring Training scheduled to begin this month, MLB.com will take an in-depth position-by-position look at the Dodgers heading into the 2021 season. First up: Starting pitchers
As talented and deep as the Dodgers’ lineup projects to be, there’s an argument to be made that the starting rotation depth could

With Spring Training scheduled to begin this month, MLB.com will take an in-depth position-by-position look at the Dodgers heading into the 2021 season. First up: Starting pitchers

As talented and deep as the Dodgers’ lineup projects to be, there’s an argument to be made that the starting rotation depth could be the biggest strength for Los Angeles going into next season.

Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler led the way in 2020 as the Dodgers’ pitching staff finished with a 3.02 ERA, the best in the Majors. This offseason, the Dodgers didn’t make any additions to the active roster, but they will welcome back David Price after the left-hander opted out of the pandemic-shortened season. Price gives the Dodgers yet another established option in the rotation.

The starters: RHP Walker Buehler, RHP Tony Gonsolin, LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Dustin May, LHP David Price, LHP Julio Urías

Though the Dodgers will have to figure out the overall plan during Spring Training, they’ll enter camp with plenty of depth on the roster. With the season going from 60 games in 2020 back to an expected 162 in ’21, the Dodgers are going to rely heavily on their depth, even more than during a traditional season.

Price hasn’t pitched in a year, and Kershaw and May are the only pitchers on the staff who made 10 or more regular-season starts in 2020. While throwing in fewer games might bode well for the arms, pitchers will need to adjust again to the full-season grind.

Though the depth is certainly there, the Dodgers will continue to rely on Kershaw and Buehler to lead the rotation. Kershaw is entering his 14th season in the Majors, and the lefty has shown no signs of slowing down, posting a 2.16 ERA and a 3.31

in 2020.

Buehler battled some blister problems throughout the season and into the postseason, limiting him to just eight regular-season starts. When healthy, however, perhaps no pitcher on the roster has more talent than Buehler. He finished in the 97th percentile in both fastball and curveball spin and limited opposing hitters to a .102 average against the heater.

Behind Buehler and Kershaw, the Dodgers have Price and Urías as the No. 3 and No. 4 starters. It’ll be interesting to see how Price looks after sitting out last season, and Urías looks to build on his stellar postseason performance. Gonsolin and May will battle it out for the fifth spot in the rotation, and it’s certainly possible that the Dodgers go to a six-man rotation at times — to keep Kershaw, Buehler and the rest of the rotation fresh over the course of the season.

Depth pieces: RHP Mitch White, RHP Edwin Uceta, LHP Enny Romero

Aside from the six starters projected to be on the Opening Day roster, the Dodgers have a second wave of arms available to provide length. White, the organization’s No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made his debut last season, tossing three scoreless innings. He will get a good look during Spring Training and is a pitcher the organization remains high on, despite his struggles at Triple-A in 2019.

Uceta, the No. 22 prospect in the system, is another young pitcher the Dodgers are excited about, though he’ll have to make up for lost time after being sent home from the alternate training site last season. The 23-year-old was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and will get a chance to compete in big league camp. He’ll continue to develop in the Minors at the beginning of the season, as he has yet to pitch at Triple-A.

As for Romero, the Dodgers are inviting him to big league camp on a Minor League deal. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman signed Romero out of the Dominican Republic during his time with the Rays, so there’s some familiarity there. Romero, 30, has spent the past few seasons in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons and has started each of the past three seasons for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.

In the pipeline: RHP Josiah Gray, RHP Gerardo Carrillo

Gray is the top prospect in the organization and is looking to build after spending last season at the team’s alternate training site. A 23-year-old right-hander, he went 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA across three levels in 2019 and will certainly get a good look during Spring Training. If the opportunity presents itself, Gray is poised to make his big league debut this year.

Carrillo was added to the 40-man roster this winter and is another intriguing arm for Los Angeles. His fastball sits in the high 90s, which makes him a possible bullpen option, if the need is there. He’ll start in the Minors as a starter, and the Dodgers will see how it goes.

Juan Toribio covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.



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