Dodgers’ potential 6-man rotation could make a lot of sense

With the soon-to-be-announced signing of James Paxton, the Dodgers’ rotation seems pretty set — at least, for the start of the 2024 season. There’s definitely room for a certain future Hall of Famer, in part because the Dodgers could stray from the traditional 5-man rotation in 2024 and possibly beyond.

Here’s how the traditional rotation looks right now:

  1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto
  2. Tyler Glasnow
  3. Bobby Miller
  4. Walker Buehler
  5. Paxton

If everyone is healthy to start the season, that’s likely how the rotation goes. You could flip-flop Yamamoto and Glasnow and/or Miller and Buehler, but the main principles are there. Now, there’s almost no chance they go 2005 Chicago White Sox and have this be the five starters for most of the season, especially in the current iteration of baseball. In fact, there has been talk of moving to a 6-man rotation, something that could benefit everyone for 2024 and beyond.

Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in ’24, but you can rest assured he’ll start Opening Day 2025 for LA. He has made 52 starts on six days of rest in his career, compared to 33 on five days rest. What’s funny is he has been significantly better on five days of rest (2.29 ERA, 23.9 K-BB%, .181 BAA) than six days (3.62 ERA, 20.8 K-BB%, .215 BAA) in his career. However, the Dodgers will do what’s best for Ohtani and his long-term future on the mound, so I’d expect it to be a bit of a modified 6-man rotation in 2025 and beyond. For this season, it could be a bit of a test run on the 6-man idea.


There is an argument to be made that the Dodgers’ top five starters all could benefit from a 6-man rotation. Yamamoto is almost assuredly going to be great, but he’s still coming from Nippon Professional Baseball and it’s a significant jump to MLB. Daniel looked at Yamamoto’s workload in NPB back in November.

“NPB starters throw once per week, as opposed to the five-to-six day schedule in MLB, and as a result they are expected to shoulder a larger load of the innings. Even within these expectations, Yamamoto’s pitch counts have stood out. Here are his pitch loads per game over the last three regular seasons (which excludes his 138 pitch complete game in the Japan Series last week):

YearTotal Starts100+ Pitches110+120+

It’s hard to say what these numbers mean other than whichever team signs him will be taking on the requisite amount of risk from a very long pitching contract, which Yamamoto is positioned to receive due to his age.”

So, it’ll be interesting to see how the Dodgers and Yamamoto handle the workload in Year 1.

As for the rest of the projected rotation, Glasnow’s career-high in innings is 120, which he set last season. The Dodgers paid him like they think they can keep him healthy, and perhaps giving him some extra rest could make some sense. Buehler is coming off his second Tommy John procedure, and we know they will want to do what they can to keep him healthy. Miller threw 138 2/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors, so he might be most in line for a 25-30-inning jump, but they still don’t want to burn him out either. And we’ve already touched on Paxton’s lengthy injury history.

Here’s what the data says when it comes to the rotation (minus Yamamoto) on four days of rest (every fifth day) versus five days of rest (every sixth day):

Pitcher4 Days Rest (ERA, K-BB%, BAA)5 Days Rest (ERA, K-BB%, BAA)
Glasnow4.11 / 23.4 / .2293.47 / 23.6 / .195
Miller2.49 / 17.4 / .1693.19 / 19.6 / .211
Buehler3.26 / 22.1 / .2232.61 / 21.1 / .200
Paxton4.11 / 18.3 / .2543.26 / 19.8 / .236

Every single pitcher in almost every single category has done better with an extra day of rest. This may be the norm around the league, honestly. Everyone likes to talk about routine when it comes to baseball players — especially starting pitchers. While it may seem counterintuitive to have your top arms throw fewer games over the course of 162 games, if it produces results like this and — more importantly — has them ready for October, then maybe it’s the best course of action. The only point of concern would, ironically, be October.

We’ve seen the Dodgers (and other teams) modify how they deploy their starters in the 10th month of the year. Presumably, one of these guys heads to the bullpen as the long reliever, while the other four shoulder the load. And the leashes are much shorter in October than they are at any other point of the season. The Dodgers won the World Series in 2020 with Julio Urias throwing 23 innings — 9 2/3 of which came as a starter. This was after posting a 3.27 ERA and 3.72 FIP in the shortened regular season. With the way things go during the postseason, someone is going to have make that transition for the betterment of the team — and it’ll happen.


Then there’s the depth, which should also help facilitate a six-man rotation arrangement throughout the year. The Dodgers also have Emmet Sheehan, Gavin Stone (recently ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the system by Baseball America), Ryan Yarbrough, Landon Knack, Nick Frasso, Kyle Hurt and, if you want to stretch things, Michael Grove (plus other live-armed prospects). They have no shortage of arms, but what remains to be seen is how good the 6-12 are. We kinda know what Yarbrough is, but Sheehan had a fantastic, albeit brief, debut, while Stone still has some juice. As for the others, they are all on the cusp of the majors, but all might also be better as relievers (especially Frasso, Hurt and Grove). The 6-12 starters (if they even go that deep) are that low on the depth chart of teams for a reason, after all. So the sixth rotation spot is sure to be a revolving door, unless someone takes a massive leap forward and warrants a more consistent role. It’s safe to assume Sheehan will get first crack at that spot.

Oh, and this doesn’t even factor in Clayton Kershaw, who should still be brought back, provided his shoulder is fully healed from November surgery (and that’s a big “if”). But if he’s healthy and wants to pitch in 2024, it’s hard not to see him being a Dodger.


The game has evolved over the years. With more data and information, teams are able to make more informed decisions about how to use their players to get the most out of everyone. There are still some ironmen remaining in the game, but things have changed. Perhaps not having humans throw baseballs 100 times at 95 MPH every fifth day isn’t the way to go. The Dodgers have options and the information out there looks like it leans toward some kind of 6-man rotation. We’ll see if they actually implement something of the sort in 2024, but it may the best way to get the most out of everyone over the course of a 7-month season.

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.