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San Francisco Giants: Know your enemy-LA Dodgers’ starting five

By Mark ONeill
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For the holiday enjoyment of San Francisco Giants fans everywhere, today’s post covers the starting rotation of the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2014’s National League West Division winner.  The Dodgers’ organization recently infused its front office with several newly-hired executive types, whose sole task was-and remains-to sort out the vast array of talent currently residing within the organization, for the purpose of fielding the best 25 players by the time the games begin to count at the start of the 2015 season.

Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi, a former inhabitant of the Oakland A’s front office for ten years, has had the advantage of first-hand experience with both Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, which certainly has to have been influential in the acquisition of both last week. With the two projected to fill the fourth and fifth positions in the rotation, regardless of the order, the time has arrived to assess what many feel constitutes the Giants’ toughest competition in the upcoming season.

First, however, the incumbents: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw (98-49 lifetime, with a 2.48 ERA in seven seasons) posted a 21-3 record in 2014 with an ERA of 1.77 and a WHIP of 0.857. He struck out 239 batters and walked 31. The staff ace of the Dodgers, Kershaw is a savage in the finest sense of the word and one of the classiest athletes in baseball, both on the field and off.

Mar 14, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig (66) on the bench during the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If LA centered its team on Kershaw instead of Yasiel Puig, the San Francisco Giants would have legitimate cause for concern. Fortunately, there does not seem to be any indication that this will occur any time in the immediate future.

Number two Zack Greinke, a righty, posted a 17-8 record in 2014 with an ERA of 2.71, the second consecutive season with LA that he has posted a sub-three (2.63 in ’13) ERA. Together with Kershaw, they make arguably the best one-two punch in baseball.

Southpaw Hyun Jin-Ryo has been the model of consistency in his first two seasons with the Dodgers, winning 14 games in each year while losing eight in 2013 and seven in the just-completed 2014 campaign.

Numbers one two and three in the rotation for LA have been stellar; it’s the fourth and fifth spot under the spotlight. Nothing has changed.

He has been an exceptional third starter for the Dodgers, whose issues recently have stemmed from lower in the rotation. While keeping that history in mind, take a look at the two pitchers slated to replace

Dan Haren

and

Josh Beckett

.

From 2012 through 2014 lefty Brett Anderson pitched a total of 123 innings, including forty-three-and-one-third innings in 2014, when he went 1-3 in eight starts with a 2.91 ERA with Colorado. Following Tommy John surgery in 2011, Anderson has suffered a series of injuries, among them an oblique strain, a fractured foot, a broken finger and a herniated disc in his back. Over the course of the past five seasons, Anderson has appeared in a total of 51 games.

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy’s National League experience includes the 2013 season and the first half of 2014 with Arizona, during which he posted an 8-21 win/loss record with a 4.75 ERA. Compared with his 44-44 record and 3.88 ERA during his eight seasons in the Junior Circuit, It is a risky proposition for Los Angeles. McCarthy’s 7-5 record and 2.89 ERA while with the New York Yankees the second half of 2014, is undoubtedly what attracted Zaidi.

Whereas both Anderson and McCarthy have the tools to more than adequately help carry LA into the postseason if they remain healthy, their track record is such that the Dodgers would be foolish to not have a backup plan.

LA may be occasionally blinded by the light but the Dodgers are not foolish. So there must be backup plans, ones that involve more than underwhelming other teams with offensive firepower. Like the Giants, LA also has to be wary of the other SoCal team in the league, the San Diego Padres.

For today Giants fans, consider LA’s starting rotation to be a Class-A Christmas gift, complete with black ribbon and orange bow.

Next: How the lineups and rotations compare between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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