Dodgers Continue to Make Questionable Pitching Choices

Granted, the Dodgers easily won their division last season, despite monumental deficiencies with both the starting pitching staff and the set-up guys in the bullpen. Relying in far to many games through August and September on starters with names like Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia, and with late innings entrusted to the young, the elderly, and the infirm. The brand new Dodgers’ brain trust, led by head of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and his general manager Farhan Zaidi, had the off season task of assembling a complete staff that featured more than three great starters and a solid closer.

At the start of spring training 2015, however, the pitching staff has new names but not a single new, reliable, established major league veteran or one who does not have a history of serious injury to bolster either of those two pitching departments. Yesterday's signing of Brandon Beachy adds yet another talented pitcher who has been missing in action week after week, month after month, throughout his very abbreviated major league career. Through his career with Atlanta, Beachy has at times been brilliant, but those times have been separated by long stretches of inactivity.
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Currently, he is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, and is not expected to be ready to pitch competitively until past mid-season. As of now, the starting staff’s number four and five guys, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson, each have health histories barely better than Beachy’s.

Last season, the Dodgers’ anticipated starting staff began the season with Paul Maholm in the fifth spot, filling in for the injured Josh Becket. Maholm pitched poorly, then suffered a season-ending injury. Becket eventually returned to the rotation, pitched fairly well, then suffered yet another injury, ending not just his season, but his career. Last season, the Dodgers had four solid starters to begin the year. With the trade of Dan Haren, this season they have only three upon whom they are reasonably able to rely upon, though each of them as well missed time for injures last season. At this point in time, the staff has not one additional veteran starting pitcher on the roster who does not have a history of serious injuries.

The club did acquire one other potential starting pitcher who does not have that type of a suspect background, but Juan Nicasio, with a lifetime record of 21 wins, 22 losses, a 5.03 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP, is not an established veteran starter upon which they Dodgers could rely when the need arises.

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The signing of Beachy raises an additional important question: Why now, at a time when the Dodgers have just learned of the loss of closer Kenley Jansen, have they signed another starting pitcher, when the bigger need is in the bullpen? Last year's disaster of a bullpen has not sufficiently been addressed this off season, with the biggest single improvement being the release of the ineffective Brian Wilson. The addition of a single veteran to the bullpen, barely average journeyman Joel Peralta, who is coming off a 3-4
season with a 4.41 ERA and six blown saves in seven opportunities while with Tampa Bay, is no improvement whatsoever.

They did add two additional possibilities for the bullpen crew in Chris Hatcher and Joe Wieland, Hatcher, after four brief and ineffective stints in the majors, did ok for Miami in 52 appearances last season, but at age 30 he has yet to record a major league save. Wieland has nine major league appearance under his belt, and a 5.31 ERA to show for it.

So, as spring camp begins to fill with the the rest of the squad, the Dodgers are as of now looking at a 2015 bullpen featuring the likes of Peralta, Hatcher, Brandon League, J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez, Paco Rodriguez, and maybe Wieland, and with one of them with the closer’s role until at May or June.

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