For Opening Day on the 4th of April at Dodgers Stadium we all know it will be Clayton Kershaw vying to get his team off to the best possible start when he takes the hill against the Padres.
However, with Clayton Kershaw being named Opening Day starter for the 6th consecutive time and of course locking down the number one spot, the remaining 4 remain a bit of mystery with the departure of Zack Greinke and additions of starters like Maeda and Scott Kazmir. The problems for LA now will be their injuries, with Brandon McCarthy, Hyun Jin Ryu being injured with his shoulder surgery and now Brett Anderson’s injury, the starting rotation mightn’t get to full strength all year.
(All stats from the 2015 season.)
1.Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13ERA)
Clayton has been and will be the best player on the Dodgers roster for what should be some time in the future so it makes sense for him to get his 6th Opening Day start and keep that number one spot the whole year. Last year Clayton didn’t take a step in the wrong direction as he never does, he didn’t get a sub 2 ERA but if that is the expectation then he must be doing something right.
Kershaw, being the star he is, has already won a gold glove, he’s been a 5 time All Star, he has won 3 Cy Young awards and even an NL MVP. This man is a beast and he is worth every penny of his 34 and a half million owed to him this year. He will be the key to the Dodgers success as he usually is and will be key to a title run.
2.Scott Kazmir (7-11, 3.10ERA)
The numbers don’t do Scott justice in his long career to date. He is a better pitcher than that suggests and that the 6 teams who have passed him up have seen. One reason for his low numbers last year is age and being traded 3 times and with that the Dodgers know they are taking a risk on him, however this could be extremely worth it and as a cheaper replacement for Greinke the front office may have found a diamond.
For Kazmir he knows the pressure isn’t on him like it would be a Greinke or Kershaw and he isn’t expected to be the second ace in the rotation that Zack was but he will want his best every time he goes to throw as his nature would suggest but time will tell for LA and this could be a brilliant pick up or one that may need to drop down the order.
3. Kenta Maeda (Has never played MLB)
The newest signing out of Japan will look to have his spot at number 3 in the rotation after all the injuries LA have had and with their pitching depth being tested right from Opening Day. Maeda went with just over a 2 ERA last year in Japan, a good figure for any pitcher and will now need to convert that into his first American season, as nervous as he may get.
Maeda for now talks only through a translator but slowly is picking up English and will be ready to go he says by the start of the year. This could be another huge signing for LA as Kenta had numerous teams after him when he was posted last year. Things look good so far in bullpens and the first spring training outing he had, where he felt nothing unusual and said he is throwing the ball well.
4.Alex Wood (4-5, 4.35ERA)
Alex Wood finally gets a solid chance for LA with the major injuries suffered in the rotation. After coming over from Atlanta two years go, this is his chance to be in the starting rotation have secure the number 4 spot all year. Watch this man this year, Alex has the potential to do what McCarthy did last year for the Dodgers, he has been waiting in the wings and now is the chance for a breakout year.
Wood has been solid for his time in the majors, 26-26 in his 67 starts but has also come out of the bullpen some 29 times. This should suit him well for his coming years in his career, never having too many innings thrown, a massive asset for LA this year with the injuries that have already occurred. Time shall tell for the lefty but if he wants to take it, this is his chance to secure a big pay check next year and lock down a spot in the rotation.
5.Zack Lee (0-1, 13.50ERA)
Let’s just get rid of that 13.5ERA for starters, that is after 4.2 innings thrown in his major league debut and have up 7 runs off 11 hits, yes that is bad but it was also his debut. Don’t judge the kid on that.
Just like Alex this is his chance to shine in the bigs after making his way up from single A with the Great Lakes Loons and all the way to now, most likely, the starting day MLB roster. He should need a few years to settle into his role but he isn’t he ace and he knows that. LA may even trade him come deadline day with the promising upcoming arrival of Julio Urias but for them to get the most quality they may need a solid first 4 or 5 months.
A solid season for this guy is not going to be 20-4 or anything like that but just stay around .500, keep the ERA below 3.50 and see what happens. Baseball is a weird sport like that and he has worked hard his whole life for this moment, so Zack, have some fun in your first full year and see where it takes you.