In other National League contender news …
One of the primary reasons I’ve been on board with the Los Angeles Dodgers being the top team in the NL on paper behind the Chicago Cubs (naturally) is because of their quality depth. There are a number of redundancies on the big league roster, and, importantly, in the upper levels of the minors. The NL West looks mighty competitive at the top this year, but the Dodgers’ depth is going to help them go far.
But that depth, particularly in the rotation, came with a number of question marks, especially on the health side of the ledger. Brandon McCarthy is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and so is Brandon Beachy. Kenta Maeda’s medical exams were sufficiently questionable that his ultimate deal with the Dodgers was heavily reliant on incentives. Scott Kazmir has a long history of arm issues.
Then there’s Brett Anderson. The lefty is super talented, and managed his first relatively healthy season in 2015 in a long time. Unfortunately for him and the Dodgers, that won’t be repeated in 2016, because he’s going to miss three to five months after back surgery.
Suddenly, the Dodgers’ extreme pitching depth looks a lot less extreme. Dave Cameron writes about the issue at FanGraphs in the wake of the Anderson news, and he thinks top prospect Julio Urias may have to enter into the picture soon, even though he’s still just 19 years old.
For now, the Dodgers still have the depth to cover the back of the rotation with Alex Wood and Mike Bolsinger, behind Maeda, Kazmir, and Clayton Kershaw. But this situation bears monitoring, as the teams at the top of the NL West will also be competing for Wild Card spots, and that race, eventually, could theoretically involve the Cubs.