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Where's that national love for the Dodgers rotation?

Are you just loving that Dodgers rotation? Thinking it’s the key to the team’s potential turnaround?

Clearly the offense isn’t going to scare anyone, so the rotation had better be impressive.

Alas, it doesn’t appear to be getting a lot of love nationally. More of a polite nod. A certain, almost begrudging recognition.’s Buster Olney, the respected national baseball writer, has compiled his list of the current top 10 rotations in baseball (Insider status required) and the Dodgers came in … tied for 10th.

That kind of review should get the turnstiles swirling. Some people are just so hard to impress.

Now, it would be impossible to argue with Olney’s No.1 choice. The Philadelphia Phillies figure to have one of the great rotations of the past 10 years with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and presumably,  Kyle Kendrick.

And, OK, the Giants are impressive -- and sans Barry Zito -- young and pretty scary. Also, of course, in the same division as the Dodgers.

After that top two, however, things get pretty subjective and open to serious debate. Olney has three other National League rotations ranked ahead of the Dodgers -- Milwaukee (6), Atlanta (8a) and St. Louis (8b).

Now, you can make a good argument for each, but for me, in that latter group the Dodgers come out on top. Most of Olney’s rotations only go one through four, and the Dodgers are solid to potentially great with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland.

There are the required amount of "ifs"connected to the L.A. rotation for it to rise to elite status. If Kershaw and Billingsley can continue to improve and mature. If Lilly can approach the starter who first arrived in Los Angeles. If Kuroda and Garland can stay healthy.

Yet after the top two, every rotation has its share of ifs. Each has its typical uncertainties.

Last season the Dodgers’ starting rotation finished 10th in the majors in earned-run average (3.99). And they are certainly improved over that group, which did not have a settled rotation until Lilly arrived on July 31.

And should/when injury strike the rotation, it has Vicente Padilla able to step in.

That should earn a higher review than tied for 10th. Not that the Dodgers can really complain. Given their overall disappointment last season, believers will not be lining up quickly.

There will be more to come on this, of course. More too from Olney,  who has sent out a mass e-mail to baseball talent evaluators asking for their top five rotations. He expects to publish those results on Thursday.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Comments () | Archives (32)

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We are not impressed yet either.

Kershaw, an elite young pitcher.
Billingsley, very good two of the last three seasons.
Kuroda, very good, can he maintain his health?
Lilly, Garland, and Padilla are part of the discussion regarding outstanding pitchers?

LA hype, there's nothing better for selling tickets.

I am a die hard Dodger fan and do love the moves that the Dodgers made to strengthen the rotation. However, there's no way the Dodgers are in the same category as the Brewers or Cardinals. The Braves and Dodgers could be about even, but I may give them a slight edge. Both the Brewers and Cardinals have 2 legit aces in Greinke & Gallardo and Carpenter & Wainwright. The Brewers acquisition of Marcum is very underated as he put up great numbers in the AL East last year and in 2008 before he was hurt. Wolf is a good #4 starter. The Cardinals go much deeper with Jaime Garcia coming into his sophomore year having an amazing year last year and Westbrook being a good #4 starter as well. They have Lohse who could come back and be a good #5 starter. If not, they have Dave Duncan who will develop somebody into a good #5.

The subject is starting rotations. Lilly and Garland aren't outstanding pitchers, but having them as your #4/#5 starters is -- wait for it -- outstanding. They are both better than Barry Zito (current version: the Cy Young version is as dead as the Dodo), that's for sure.

Oooh, really, Michael B? Milwaukee has Greinke and Gallardo? In other words they have one guy who was MUCH worse than Kershaw in 2010 and another guy who was worse than Billingsley. Typical Dodgers fan: always drooling over other teams' players and sniffing at Dodger players like they're rotting dog meat.

I did the math, and if the current rotation puts up the same ERA's, our rotation will have a combined ERA of 3.39. I like that we have a solid 1-5.

I hope we can show we're better, than tied for 10th

I will take our 1 - 5 guys any day. I agree that there is not much love for the dodgers rotation but I know the guys will prove the national media wrong. Let's not forget that this is baseball and things can change at the drop of a hat. Didn't some of those same Philly pitchers lose to the Giants this past postseason? I will always bleed dodger blue and so far I'm not hating with Ned has done.

Pitching is sufficient enough to win...offense is putrid.

The Dodgers rotation is pretty's better than I thought it would be. Sure, it would have been great to have a Lee or a Greinke, but we all knew (or should have known) that wasn't going to happen. Kershaw and Billingsley as the top two should be OK, assuming they are consistent and don't run out of gas late in the season from throwing a lot of pitches. As Nos. 3, 4 and 5, Lilly, Kuroda and Garland are also OK. We'll see what happens, because as you say, it'll be up to them to keep the Dodgers in games.

The 2011 Dodgers rotation is just okay. Let's not kid ourselves here.

10th again.

Most Dodger fans underrate Kershaw and so do many others I think, he was better than Greinke, Gallardo and anyone on the Braves last year, so yeah I'd move the Dodgers up as Kuroda is really a #2, so I see them as having a #1, 2 #2's and then 4, 5 Lilly, Garland/Padilla is solid. Not sure I'd put the Brewers up there just yet, Cardinals may still be a step ahead although not sure who their #5 is

Save for lilly who came in July, it's the same group of stiffs who carried the dudgers to 4th place glory in 2010. Yeah but-

Yeah but nuttin'.

Potential resides the same place as yesterday's fastball: somewhere over the rainbow.

Garland is now found under the Christmas tree but unless he pitches like Judy sang, so what. Any potential upward mobility an kershaw & billingsley may be offset by the declines the greybeards kuroda, garland, lilly and paDilLa... only time will tell - and it usually does.

Last year has no guaranteed bearing on this year - good or bad - it's just that while hope springs eternal, may be a case the well having run dry i.e., having been drained too often nee be empty... no gushing.

Ned isn't fooling anyone except for the typical "homer" Dodger-fan... The Dodgers have a "nice" rotation made up of a #2 and a bunch of #3 & #4 starters; which will probably be enough to get them into the post season, via the wild card.

The biggest improvement to the starting rotation is the elimination of Russell Martin...

all to do about nothing

only thing that will matter is what the rotations do in 2011 - right now, buster wants folks to read what he's writing in the offseason so this makes a pretty good topic. Nothing wrong with the man doing his job.

Steve doesn't say so, and not sure if Buster does either, but I can't imagine there's a great deal of separation in Buster's list between 6 and tied for 10. In the NL, there's two clearly defined "ahead of the pack" rotations - one in Philly, and the other in Frisco. And given our history since both moved to the West Coast, I have no fear of Frisco - our hitters of years past have risen to the challenge before, no reason this bunch can't either. We're talking about finding a couple of runs, and we even managed to do that last year. Philly's rotation - that's a different deal. But we can cross that bridge in October if these starters make themselves worthy of the ongoing fawning.

This rotation is certainly better than last years rotation. Remember the opening day starter last year? he is our #6 pitcher this upcoming season...Go Blue!

I've always been confused by fellow Dodger fans. One year, it's, "We need a big arm or bat!" The next, it's "We need to develop from within!" This year, I believe a noteworthy job has been accomplished in building a more than adequate staff to support our rich talent to develop into the potentials stars they might be. If they do, it will cost big bucks to keep them, but hopefully, the Boston soap opera will have perished and new ownership will be glad to compensate greatness for the long haul. And at least, we'll have fun smiling this year of fulfillment. BTW, why not acquire Hawpe on the cheap for right field and move Andre to his left field choice. Hawpe always killed us at Dodger Stadium.

ESPN's baseball coverage is a joke. That's why Gammons bailed(he may still get overpaid to write a few pieces), and Olney always sounds reasonable when talking but i've never found his written work to be much better than half the guys who comment on your post Steve. Couple that with the fact that he is a Yankees fan and it becomes apparent that he will only hit the Barn with a broadside when discussing free agent aquisitions. And 16 blows? Used to think your unorthodox prose was the product of a creative literary backround but after recent comments I'm worried you may be seriously ill and overdosing on your medical marijuana perscription. What's up with your handle? Is it a Truffaut reference or a veiled jab at Ethier?

Not so much a"LA Hype" .... The west coast NEVER gets any serious consideration . I have completely gave up on ESPN total east coast favoritism ! MLB Net. hasn't looked any better . Its ok to not be noticed , lets remember the 2 years we did have post season depth, beating the Cubs when EVERYONE on TV ( the talking Heads ) had us beaten & the next year we took down St.Louis .
Last year every Dodger except Kershaw, Carrol, Billingsley, Kuo & Jansen maybe was to blame The starting rotation never really had a complete spot , starters didn't last deep enough in games taxing our bull pen bats absolutely stunk !
Casey Blake IS finished & Adrian Beltre MUST become a Dodger once again ! Angels are bidding against themselves & wouldn't take much to out do Anaheim ! Forget about pop out of left field ! It simply ain't there , it IS however available in free agent master 3rd baseman Beltre ! Come on Ned finish the job !

In addition, the modern day rotation consists of 5 guys and will continue to until Mr.Ryan of Texas gets his way(and I hope he does). StL. and Mil. can't even approach the Dodgers rotation when their back 2 wouldn't make our club. Greinke is great but has a long history of inconsistancy and his CY year was the only year that his numbers were clearly better than any of Kid K's. Would anyone out there Rather have Carpenter than Kershaw this year? There are only 6 guys I would have take the hill over Kershaw opening day and Greinke and Carpenter are not on that shortlist. Halladay, Lee, Sabathia, Lincecum, King Felix, and yes Wainright. The only reason Kershaw hasn't put up the CY numbers is because of the kid gloves that Torre handle him with due to the fact that he is a kid. But this year i'm sure the kid gloves are off and any debate about whether the Dodgers have or need an ace will be anecdotal. The Gynts have a better rotation than us, I don't want to talk about it. The Phils' front four are so good that their 5th guy won't lose enough to take their edge away. T.B. is real quality and still getting better. The Yanks and BoSox have tremendous talent being paid tremendous $$ but lack Balance and health. The Braves are looking to be the next Rays but are still a year or two away. Phi,SF,TB, and your Los Angelos Dodgers. In that order.

@N.P.Krohn (is that anything like the inflammatory disease from one end to the other?)

"What's up with your handle? Is it a Truffaut reference or a veiled jab at Ethier?"

- yes...

Specifically: "thar sh'e' blows!"

It is a nice rotation pitchers. Certainly not top tier (Philly & SF) but able to be talked about in the next tier.
However, you must include that we have two new catchers who are not considered that great at handling pitches and a new manager who may not be that great at handling pitchers and a pitching coach who is not among the elite.
Kershaw and Bills are definitely going to improve. Kuroda is probably solid. Garland is solid if healthy, Padilla can be a ??? and Lilly was not pitching well except for a short spurt with the Dodgers. We could be the 4th best or we could just as easily fall to 12th best. Who knows, lets play 162 and see.
The one thing I do know is that as it stands, the offense is projected to score 50-100 fewer runs than last year and as good as it is, the pitchers are not projected to improve by that much.

If the Dodgers' starters were listed by Olney anything above 7th it would have raised eyebrows everywhere, here included, and suddenly the memories of the staff's performances would flood with the negatives:

Kershow, treated like porcelain, untested in a season when he may need to dominate by going 8 most games in the first half. Didn't he throw one complete game last year? If he throws long in the first half, no one would know for certain how he'd perform after July, whether he'd break down or not be able to get out of the 7th by September. I'm not saying he wouldn't peform, or he couldn't, but that we do not know.

Billingsley: His history is up and down. Great in month X, perplexingly walk-mad and can't get out of the 5th in month Z. IOW: We don't know how well he'll pitch from month to month. We don't think he knows. He too is still too much an unknown quantity. I think he'll be at his best this year, but is still too young to know for sure.

Lilly: Up there in age tho durable, and the way he throws, likely to remain durable, beyond, i think, the length of his contract. BUT. He has his strings of down starts, emphasis on string. How long do these strings last? They have varied throughout his career. For that reason, he is seen by most observers as hard to nail down. AGAIN: We don't know. I suspect this may be his best year. But he's too inconsistent to know that.

Kuroda: Solid and way underrated by the likes of Olney, who like some who mouth off at Eastern Sports Programming Net are ratings-centric northeast. They barely go beyond Philly in the Eastern time zone, and think an exotic match-up is Cubs-Cards, which no matter how poorly either or both are playing televise one game out of every damn series they play, as if to prove their cameras can operate outside Boston and NYC. Suffice it to say that if Kuroda were a Yankee Olney would have to wear a diaper. But he's on the marginal coast so isn't recognized by "Buster" as being anything more than on the margin. Hiroki's only downside is his age, which may impact his pitching per se if not contribute to more injuries. He is less a question mark for me than the above, but still one because of his age.

Garland: Let go by several teams, not seeming to have It. Serviceable, nothing to write home about, OK, fills innings, puts in an effort, probably will win several games, maybe even in double digits, not so much a question mark as not so much period. Better than most 5th starters? Yes. Will getting more rest between starts help make him more effective toward the end of the year? Could be. He is a pitching version of the kind of everyday player Colletti assembles, deserving of a shrug of uncertainty more than enthusiasm.

Padilla: Discounted as not so great due to the injury time he's been piling up.

One thru four, the Dodgers stack up pretty well, not very well, because of all those question marks. More than, say, Carpenter-Wainwright et al or the top 3-4 in Frisco, who seem much more solid and reliable than the Dodgers starters have proven. 10th? Buster has no legitimate excuse for being so blind. 7th or 8th might be closer. If the staff puts in a solid year and seems as durable as Philly's, we might next year talk 3rd or 4th. Unless the Dodgers move back to Brooklym, espn will barely recognize their names.

;pitching is good, that's not the problem. where will the offense come from? kemp seems uninspired, obviously manram is no longer there to protect Ethier. Hopefully ethier can put up the same kind of numbers as last year before he was injured. loney? no power, and not particularly good contact hitter either. then there are the new guys, gibbons, uribe, xavier paul. paul is intriguing as a prospect, if he can get some consistent ABs with no injuries, who knows. i will continue to not attend Dodger games until the national embarassments we call our owners sell the team. i still root for the Bums, it's in my blood, just won't be forking over any cash to those greedy cretins. Angel games are just as enjoyable, and less traffic. then there's always the beach...

Is this an LA only boys club?

The Dodger's woes last season were not the result of their starting pitching. Except for a poor start to the season, the Dodgers rotation was one of the best in baseball. How many times did the Dodgers lose 1-0 or 2-1? The Dodgers led the Majors in getting shutout last year, but that's the result of a tepid offense not a poor pitching staff. Many people say that Kuroda is being overpaid, and rightfully so, but for him to return to the Dodgers after so many great pitching performances met disappointing outcomes shows his loyalty to the Dodgers. The Dodgers don't have the greatest rotation in baseball, but under the circumstances I am more than happy. If the offense can pick things up this year it should be much more competitive season than last.

for the (one) who said Kershaw never threw a complete game maybe you forgot get to notice his first career shutout against the Midgets... its fans like you who underrate kershaw that bring all this negativity! Kershaw is our future Ace! And he BETTER than that pothead freak in frisco!!

I guess i should quit, eh, Steve?


"16 blows" mostRF's out of the water:
Gladly my name share's not spelling or significance with said degenerative disease. In the spirit of the holidays monsieur when i do not like the song you play i'll do my best not to shoot the piano player. Merry Xmas to all(even the McCourts, who I hope in the nature Xmass get together and sell the club to Bill Gates who uses club profits to make sure every American has health care) and to the Dodgers a very different New Year. Especially to Blake who should only be in the line up against lefties.

Dodgers are in the top 4 in the NL in starting pitching.

In the bottom 4 in offense, and about average in defense.

I would expect another average season where we have to hope the NL west is average as well to make the playoffs.

I'm okay with the Dodgers 2011 rotation with the exception of Garland who built in shut off switch after 6 innings. But the Dodgers have in insurance policy in Padilla who, if healthy,is a better pitcher than Garland.

What scares me is the bullpen. I don't trust any reliever not named Kuo. I don't know anything about Guerrier, but after the Sherrill debacle, I'm not exactly trusting Coletti's ability to find good relievers. Everybody he brings in turns into Elmer Dessens.

So long as the starters are pitching complete shutouts, we should be in really good shape this year.


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