Regular Articles

 

The old saying goes that pitching, pitching and more pitching wins championships. If that’s the case, the Los Angeles Dodgers are gearing up for a championship run.

The Dodgers are stacked when it comes to pitching, and that’s before the team recently agreed to a one-year deal with veteran lefty Paul Maholm.

The rotation is chock full of big names, but ownership has made it clear: Past performance does not automatically guarantee a starting spot.

This statement is directed straight towards Josh Beckett.


Josh Beckett will have to earn a spot
Photo by Insert Photographer, used under creative commons license.

Of course, Beckett is well known for his World Series performance as a member of the Florida Marlins, but all of a sudden, that was 11 years ago. He had a few good seasons with the Boston Red Sox, but he’s been a shell of his former self since coming to the Dodgers.

 

Most teams would love to have a veteran like Beckett slated into the fifth starter’s spot. But the Dodgers are not content with mediocrity this season.

Locking up ace Clayton Kershaw is the move that everyone’s talking about. However, the Dodgers also added veteran Dan Haren to the mix, who rebounded last year after a rough start with the Washington Nationals.

Meanwhile, now Maholm joins the fold to compete for a starting spot, as the rich keep getting richer.

The top four in the rotation appear set: Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Haren. Beckett and Maholm will battle it out this spring for the final spot.

Maholm does have experience pitching out of the bullpen, so that could be taken into consideration when the final decision comes. But keep in mind that another talented starter, Chad Billingsley, is ahead of schedule in rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Initial reports suggested that Billingsley would be ready after the All-Star break, but his return could come even sooner.

The Dodgers right now have an all-in mentality. Rather than give some young arms, like Matt Magill or Stephen Fife, a chance at competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, the team brought in proven veterans to round out the staff.

Maholm is coming off a year in which he finished 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA. Teams would kill to have those numbers out of their fifth starter’s spot.

For the Dodgers, the competition in spring will decide who earns that final slot. But the team has set itself up with enough depth to handle any injury or even enough pieces to pull off a trade deadline deal.

Based on talent, the Dodgers were right where they needed to be last season after a poor start (lost NLCS to St. Louis Cardinals in six games). This year, anything short of a World Series berth would be considered a disappointment in Hollywood, and it starts with the pitching staff.