Will domino effect follow Yu Darvish?

We’ve been hearing it all winter long: When the first big name free agent finally signs during this year’s brutally slow off-season, the others will soon follow.

But with pitchers and catchers set to report for spring training in just two days, and with 31-year-old free agent right-hander Yu Darvish now off the market having signed a seemingly incomprehensible 6-year / $150 million contract with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday morning, there has been no indication whatsoever that any of the remaining big name free agents still out there – especially starting pitchers – are any closer to signing than they were prior to the Darvish deal being completed.

As it stands right now and barring any unforeseen last minute free agent acquisitions, the Dodgers opening day starting rotation is pretty much already in stone … at least according to Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, that is.

“Right now we have five starters from last year and I think the guys that everybody sees as our five starters unless there’s an injury or something like that,” Zaidi told reporters at last month’s FanFest event. “I think that’s what we’ll go into the season with.”

Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi left reporters with more questions than they started with when it came to the Dodgers opening day starting rotation. (Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

But is this really the wise thing to do? Most so-called baseball experts and writers don’t think it is. They also think that this may be a ploy by the Dodgers GM to mask any potential negotiations that might be going on behind closed doors which, at the time, also included Darvish.

By every indication, the ‘five starters from last year’ that Zaidi was referring to are Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The blatantly obvious problem with this is that it is a starting rotation that consists of four left-handers and only one right-hander; not exactly what you would call an ideal situation. However, also at last month’s FanFest event, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters that their plan heading into spring training is to stretch out right-handers Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, and Dodgers top-ranked prospect Walker Buehler to become starters.

“It is the plan to stretch [Stripling and Buehler] out, Brock Steward as well,” Roberts said. “As we all know, you can never have enough starting pitching, so to kind of take the necessary steps to stretch them out early and to build them up to see how spring training plays out, you can always taper them back a little bit. But yeah, at the outset you want to have those guys stretched out a little bit more.”

There is little doubt that most fans want to see Buehler in the Dodgers opening day starting rotation. The big question is whether or not the Dodgers brass does. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Clearly the math doesn’t add up here if Zaidi is already convinced that the aforementioned five will make up his opening day starting rotation and if Roberts plans to have the other three ready to be starters. That being said, what’s to stop the Dodgers from going to a six-man rotation? In fact, judging by the ‘trend’ in the game today of limiting starters to only five or six innings, this could be the better plan; one that Zaidi and Roberts might also be masking – especially with Buehler.

“Knowing how excited people get watching Walker pitch, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of talk about having him on the team one way or another,” Zaidi said. “But you’ve got to think about how to maximize his impact on the team over the whole season. You guys will have plenty of time to write this story.”

Perhaps that time is now.

Play ball!


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One Response to “Will domino effect follow Yu Darvish?”

  1. oldbrooklynfan says:

    It looks like a fantastic starting rotation aside from the fact that there’s only one righthander.

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