2014 Spring Training preview: Starting pitchers

Dan Haren could be one of Ned Colletti’s best signings.
Clayton Kershaw 26 2013 236 8.8 2.0 1.83 2.39 2.88 6.5
’14 ZiPS 227.1 9.2 2.1 2.26 2.55 N/A 5.7
’14 Steamer 192 9.2 2.4 3.11 2.98 N/A 3.6
Zack Greinke 30 2013 177.2 7.5 2.3 2.63 3.23 3.45 2.9
’14 ZiPS 192 8.2 2.1 2.95 3.00 N/A 3.7
’14 Steamer 192 7.8 2.3 3.48 3.25 N/A 3.0
Hyun-Jin Ryu 27 2013 192 7.2 2.3 3.00 3.24 3.46 3.1
’14 ZiPS 182.1 7.7 2.5 3.65 3.93 N/A 1.3
’14 Steamer 189 7.6 2.6 3.58 3.38 N/A 2.7
Dan Haren 33 2013 (Nationals) 169.2 8.0 1.6 4.67 4.09 3.67 1.5
’14 ZiPS 162.2 7.6 1.7 3.71 3.59 N/A 2.0
’14 Steamer 173 7.4 1.7 3.56 3.55 N/A 2.2
Josh Beckett 34 2013 43.1 8.5 3.1 5.19 4.66 3.81 -0.1
’14 ZiPS 103.2 7.8 2.7 3.73 3.83 N/A 0.8
’14 Steamer 77 7.5 2.7 3.81 3.73 N/A 0.7
Paul Maholm 32 2013 (Braves) 153.0 6.18 2.76 4.41 4.24 3.89 0.7
’14 ZiPS 147.1 6.11 2.51 3.97 4.12 N/A 2.0
’14 Steamer 77.0 6.22 2.74 4.01 3.76 N/A 0.6
Chad Billingsley 29 2013 (Dodgers) 12 4.5 3.7 3.00 4.38 4.66 0.0
’14 ZiPS 97 7.1 3.3 3.90 3.74 N/A 0.9
’14 Steamer 19 7.0 3.1 4.14 3.91 N/A 0.1
Stephen Fife 28 2013 (Dodgers) 58.1 6.9 3.1 3.70 4.35 3.89 0.1
’14 ZiPS 124 5.5 3.8 4.57 4.68 N/A -0.5
’14 Steamer 19 6.2 3.6 4.48 4.23 N/A 0.1
Matt Magill 24 2013 (Dodgers) 27.2 8.5 9.1 6.51 7.13 6.04 -0.8
’14 ZiPS 117.1 8.2 5.7 4.60 4.74 N/A -0.4
’14 Steamer 19 8.4 5.9 4.47 4.21 N/A 0.1
Zach Lee 22 2013 (AA) 142.2 8.3 2.2 3.22 33.7 N/A N/A

The Dodgers have always been known for their pitching — especially their starting pitching. With this potentially stellar group led by Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers figure to have one of the best rotations in the majors.

Kershaw is coming off his second Cy Young award in three years, and it easily could have been 3-for-3. He’s the first starting pitcher (who qualified for the ERA title) to post a sub-2 ERA since Pedro Martinez did it in his historic 2000 season. Greg Maddux last did it in the National League in 1995. Yes, ERA is becoming more and more like batting average, but if a guy hit .375, that’s going to open some eyes.

1:05pm PT
Glendale, Ariz.
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The soon-to-be-26-year-old signed a monster contract extension in the offseason and will be a Dodger for at least the next five seasons. While he’s off to a slow start in spring training (10.00 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, .308 BAA), it’s nothing to be concerned about. He’s going to be one of the two pitchers to start the Dodgers’ opening series in Australia. While the last memory some folks have of Kershaw is his disastrous Game 6 performance in the NLCS, he’s primed to bounce back from that.

Zack Greinke is coming off a great first season in Los Angeles. Despite missing time with a broken collar bone, he was still able to be the unquestioned No. 2 starter on the staff. For a time last season, Greinke was the Dodgers’ best pitcher; he has that kind of ability. Entering his age-30 season, Greinke is showing no signs of slowing down. He might not be the 220-plus inning workhorse many would like him to be, but he’s going to give the Dodgers quality innings while he’s out there. He’s been hampered by a calf injury thus far, but he should be ready for stateside opening day.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s debut season was fantastic. After a lot was made of his signing, and the uncertainty behind it, he went out and pitched about as well as anyone could have expected. He should take a step forward this season and be a 200-plus inning pitcher for the Dodgers. I’m predicting a big season from Ryu, i.e. better numbers than he posted in his rookie year (even if the projection systems disagree). He’ll join Kershaw pitching in Australia.

Dan Haren was a quick signing by Ned Colletti, and it could pay off big time for the Dodgers. Haren is a local kid and, despite a couple of down seasons, could be one of the best No. 4 starters in the game. Both ZiPS and Steamer expect him to be better than Ryu. I don’t think he’ll be that good, but he should be a quality pitcher for the Dodgers.

Those are the locks, barring injury. Now comes the fun part.

Josh Beckett has looked pretty good this spring, even if the Mariners roughed him up on Sunday. His velocity seems to be solid and his curveball (in his first start) was good. He’s recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery, so it’ll be interesting to watch his progress. He has the inside track for the No. 5 spot right now.

Paul Maholm was a nice value signing, and an insurance policy in case Beckett’s offseason surgery prevented him from pitching (well) in 2014. He won’t overpower hitters and he’s the definition of a crafty lefty. He said after he was signed that he’d be willing to pitch out of the bullpen, if needed As of right now, it looks like that might be the case.

Chad Billingsley won’t be ready until — depending who you believe, June or July. He’ll likely be brought back slowly, pitching out of the bullpen to build up his endurance. Remember, he won’t get a regular spring training. Sure, he’ll get a few rehab starts in the minors, but it isn’t the same. If he comes back and is a anywhere close to his former self, that would only be a good thing for the Dodgers.

Stephen Fife had a solid stretch in 2013 when he was an effective pitcher. Some poor late-season outings put a damper on an otherwise solid season. He should head the Albuquerque Isotopes’ pitching staff and be on the short list if the Dodgers need an emergency start.

Matt Magill had a fantastic debut against the Milwaukee Brewers only to see Matt Guerrier blow the game for him. There wasn’t much other good from Magill’s time in the majors in 2013. He completely forgot how to throw strikes and couldn’t be counted on. He had control issues in Triple-A, but he showed flashes that made him a Top-10 prospect last year.

Zach Lee had a solid spring debut on Friday, throwing two scoreless innings against the Rangers. He is the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect and the one closest to the majors after Ross Stripling was diagnosed with a torn UCL. He could make his debut in 2014, but it’d be in a capacity not dissimilar to Joc Pederson‘s — an extended period of time, not a spot-start.


With that, we conclude the Dodgers Digest Spring Training Preview series. Baseball is almost here for real, folks.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.