ANOTHER Wounded Pitcher Signed by the Dodgers?

Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Beachy, Erik Bedard, and today Dustin McGowan – What are the Dodgers and the Freidman-Zaidi brain trust thinking?

Last season, and in many of the past several years, the Dodgers suffered through long stretches where they did not know who would be starting their next game, due to injuries to one starter after another. Last season, each of the big three of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu missed time, and with no real occupant of the fifth spot in the rotation, for large segments of the season the Dodgers were struggling with the likes of Paul Maholm, Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia in the
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rotation. Since last season, they have traded away Dan Haren and Josh Beckett has retired, and they have filled the empty rotation spots with a group of pitchers who have missed more time due to serious injuries over the past few years than they have had active playing time.

Today, yet another member of the walking wounded has been signed, though ostensibly a relief pitcher. McGowan came up to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005 as a starter, and over his first four full or partial seasons, made 75 appearances, 56 of them starts. He was inconsistent, but showed flashes of excellence. However, in mid-2008 he injured his shoulder, and did not pitch again until September of 2011, after two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery. However, he was not fully recovered and was to miss the 2012 season as well, and during that summer underwent his third shoulder surgery. He came

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back to the Toronto staff in mid-2013 and he became a relief pitcher, making 25 appearances out of the bullpen. Last year he was fairly healthy, and appeared in 53 games for the Blue Jay, eight of them starts.

Now, McGowan becomes the sixth off season signee to the pitching staff with a long and serious injury history (the four others mentioned above plus Dave Aardsma, a relief
pitcher only, but one who also missed the 2011, 2012, and 2014 seasons due to injury). And, don’t forget, the Dodgers also have Stephen Fife, a starter who cam up through the organization and who looked like he could at some point earn a rotation spot, but who also underwent Tommy John surgery last season and whose return remains uncertain.

So, the Dodgers will be heading into the 2015 season without a closer for the first two months of the season, with a big three group of starters who, though among the best in the game, have suffered through a debilitating back injury (Kershaw) and recurring elbow (Greinke) and shoulder (Ryu) problems, and with a supporting group to fill out the starting staff and parts of the bullpen whose history demonstrates the extreme likelihood of extensive missed time through the season.

The early 2015 Dodgers' schedule has an unusually low number of off-days, and includes one stretch of six consecutive days with games, another stretch of nine days in a row with games, and then after one off day a streak of 17 consecutive days with scheduled games, then another of nine after a single day off. So unlike what is often the case, the team will definitely need five starters throughout the early going, not to mention a deep bullpen, as
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starters should not and will not be called on to pitch too many innings per game too early.

I’ll have more to say about the 2015 schedule coming up soon. But for now, these fragile pitching arms, elbows and shoulders are going to be heavily taxed, and from the very beginning of the season.

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