White Sox @ Dodgers March 3, 2016: Baseball! But not for Brett Anderson

Baseball is back! Sure, it’s fake baseball, but it’s baseball nonetheless. But one Dodger won’t get to experience baseball for 3-5 months.

White Sox
12:05 p.m.
Glendale, Ariz.
Van Slyke
Danks (L)
Kershaw (L)

If there were ever a time for “WELP,” this is it. Yesterday, Brett Anderson tweaked his back and was slated to undergo some tests. Today, he’s having surgery on said back. It’s a bulging disc, and the timetable for his return is 3-5 months. Not ever having had back surgery, I cannot say for sure, but a 3-month timetable seems a bit optimistic. I’d err on the side of five months. That would put him back on the mound after the trade deadline. If he comes back healthy, his return could be seen as a deadline acquisition. I’m trying to find the silver lining, and that might be it.

Anderson was betting on himself after rejecting a multi-year deal(s) from another team this winter to sign the 1-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer the Dodgers gave him. I’m not going to shed a tear for a guy making almost $16 million, but he’s definitely behind the 8-ball when it comes to landing a substantial free-agent contract next winter.

Let’s look at how this impacts the 2016 Dodgers. Steamer and ZiPS had Anderson as a 2.2 and 1.9-win player, respectively. Steamer had him pegged for 148 innings, while ZiPS was at 110 2/3. At best, he’s going to get 10-12 starts, so don’t expect more than 50-60 innings — if he makes it back at all.

This is why the Dodgers have depth. The rotation is full of guys with health concerns, and the depth will be tested early with Anderson out and Hyun-Jin Ryu not ready until at least May. We talk about the depth chart, so who is actually in line to slide into the rotation? It might not be just one guy.

Dave Roberts identified Mike Bolsinger and Brandon Beachy as the “logical” replacements. My guess is Bolsinger will get the first chance to fill the Anderson void. He performed surprisingly well for most of last season, before his curveball came back to bite him. It’d be nice if Beachy could be closer to the guy he was in Atlanta (or at least a fraction of that guy), but that remains to be seen. Carlos Frias is a contender, but the team might want to shift him to a bullpen role, where his stuff plays and numbers are better.

Anderson’s injury doesn’t completely open the door for some of the other youngsters. Jharel CottonJose De Leon and Julio Urias still need some seasoning in Triple-A before they’re ready for the starting rotation. I’d wager a decent amount of money (I don’t have) that De Leon makes the majors in the rotation before Urias does. Ross Stripling, despite having not pitched in Triple-A, is probably more ready for a rotation spot than the previously mentioned trio, but he’s about eighth or ninth on the depth chart. Zach Lee made a start last season, but he’s probably even behind Stripling and De Leon at this rate. Ian Thomas is also a possibility. He had that one good start last season, remember?

Here’s the order I’d try for the No. 5 starter:

  1. Bolsinger
  2. Beachy
  3. Frias
  4. Stripling
  5. De Leon
  6. Lee
  7. Thomas
  8. Cotton
  9. Urias
  10. Montas

Perhaps this opens a door for Jamey Wright to make the team as a swingman, to team with Joe Blanton in that role. Outside of Clayton Kershaw, folks shouldn’t really expect any other pitcher in the rotation to go more than six innings on a consistent basis (maybe Maeda, but that remains to be seen). Having a couple of relievers capable of going 2-3 innings once or twice a week could be beneficial.

The Dodgers also should get Brandon McCarthy back before Anderson is ready, so this injury isn’t terribly devastating. It’s never fun when a quality pitcher gets hurt, but since the Dodgers are so deep, they can absorb this (and the Ryu injury, an the Frankie Montas injury) without really skipping a beat.

Oh, and go baseball!

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.