What to do about the Brett Anderson dilemma?

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I guess we’re just gonna have to get used to this whole ‘injured Dodger starting pitcher thing’ aren’t we? The Dodgers have an issue, starting pitching is the concern, it’s been a concern since what feels like 1988. and despite the handful of #3 starters that the Dodgers brought to camp, the rotation lines up like this on opening day:

Clayton Kershaw

Scott Kazmir

Alex Wood

Kenta Maeda

Mike Bolsinger

You’ll note that Brett Anderson, who pitched more than he ever did last season is absent from that list because of a back injury that he re-injured this week. He’s out 3-5 months, it’s not a given that he’ll pitch this season even if he does rehab considering his history with other injuries. The Dodgers had to give him the qualifying offer because of how overvalued pitching has become on the open market (hi, Ian Kennedy), and Anderson took it, the deal failed before the season even started, it happens.

And as far as Hyun-Jin Ryu goes… welp

This comes about a week after McCullough reported that Ryu wasn’t going to pitch until at least mid-May as opposed to the early April timeline he was talking about in the Winter. I feel it important to bring up this Jay Jaffe article that was written 4 years ago which is a super informative article regarding shoulder injuries in baseball.

Six of the remaining 18 (Matt Clement, Dirk Hayhurst, Eric Hurley, Prior, Brandon Webb, and Paul Wilson) pitched in the minors but were unable to pitch well enough to return to the majors; Hayhurst, Hurley, Prior, and Webb were active last year, and may yet write happier endings to their tales of woe. Nineteen others pitched less than 50 major-league innings following surgery, a count that includes the still-active Jose Ascanio, Travis Blackley, Boof Bonser, Brandon Lyon, Dustin McGowan, Troy Patton, and Clayton Richard; those 19 have totaled exactly 0.0 WARP in their post-surgical careers. So that’s 58 percent with little to no return thus far. Fifty-seven percent of our “notable” list, mind you; doubtless there are dozens (hundreds?) of minor leaguers who aren’t included here

What more can you say at this point? We’re figuring out that shoulder injuries are arguably the most debilitating injury in sports as far as an athlete’s future projection is concerned, maybe on comparable with microfracture surgeries in basketball, at least as far as impacted performance, only labrum injuries have the not-insignificant likelihood that the pitcher never pitches again.

There’s a situation where that works out fine, nobody has to worry about Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir has been good for 6.4 wins above replacement the past two seasons, Alex Wood had an injury to excuse his poor performance down the stretch last season, giving hope that he can return to what he was early in his Braves career. Beyond that, ¯_(ツ)_/¯ but in this world where Kazmir continues his strong performance as incentive to opt out and where Alex Wood heals properly and is a solid #3 starter, Maeda and Bolsinger don’t need to be world beaters.

But this has been the defense since Hyun-Jin Ryu’s arm was shredded, “the back end starters don’t have to perform like top options” and in this situation, the back end starters are Maeda who’s injury risk is reflected in his contract, and Bolsinger who… is a nice guy, a high end Stephen Fife? I mean he can even be effective when he does start in short bursts, but those 21 starts last season exposed him as the year wore on.

From my viewpoint, it appears like we underestimated the magnitude of Ryu’s injury, which is fine considering that the Dodgers haven’t had such an important rotation member go down with this kind of injury, it’s still early but Ryu’s hopes for a productive 2016 diminish every day that he’s not throwing. I don’t blame Brett Anderson for taking the qualifying offer, I don’t blame the team for giving him the qualifying offer.

And to be fair, the list of teams that could survive losing a #3 starter a few days into Spring Training is short, at least the Dodgers should still be able to contend with what they have. Not everything has to be a front office love/hate piece even if the introduction to Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman has polarized whole sites surrounding the Dodgers, sometimes things don’t work out, but for the first time in a long time, the Dodgers aren’t runaway favorites in their division and Anderson’s injury has exposed just how debilitating Hyun-Jin Ryu’s injury is.

For the first time in a long time it appears that the Dodgers are headed for a trade deadline in which they will need to make a move to improve their chances at winning the division, not just improving their chances at a deep postseason run. With the Anderson injury, the floor has fallen for the starting rotation, with the Ryu injury, the ceiling has lowered also, and at this point, it’s a real debate as to what’s more of a sure thing, the offense or the rotation, and that’s a scary conversation to be having on March 5th.

 

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Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

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9 thoughts on “What to do about the Brett Anderson dilemma?

  1. Adrian I agree that the big injury is Ryu. This is going into it’s second year and has yet to be addressed. With Kershaw and Greinke at the top it’s easier to adapt, with Kershaw alone it’s different, and now critical. The whole Anderson injury, on one side you feel bad for the guy, on the other side it’s no big deal because he’s not a very good pitcher. He (like Bolsinger, Frias, etc) is “effective” with fewer innings not more innings. I wonder where Wood is a better pitcher, more or fewer innings?
    .
    BTW I had the same rotation as you except De Leon instead of Bolsinger.

  2. Agree losing Ryu is much more important than losing Anderson. The Dodgers took a risk signing him knowing about the shoulder. That was before FAZ came on board, but after two trips to the DL in 2014 you would think they would pursue more durable starters than Brett and Brandon.

    Strange that no matter how bad things look our minor league pitcher of the year is not mentioned as a possible answer. Someone will step up and get the job or the Dodgers will be sellers at the deadline rather than buyers.

  3. So now we (Dodger fans) are counting the bodies. Which have dropped, which are trying to stay up, and the ones trying to get into the room.

    1. We hope that some of the present arms on the expanded roster can come forward and belly up and become something special.

    2. The front office realize that just maybe they need to take a few of the minor league stars and or present 25 roster guys — and go make a trade for a front line pitcher/s — and make 2016 possible.

    3. The front office holds their breath and hope that the smoke and mirrors work enough to win the N.L. West.

    4. The Dodger 2016 season sees the team ending in 3rd or 4th place with a new G.M. being hired in October.

  4. When a guy like Pederson is not playing and I have not heard why . . . then that is when I wish there was coverage of the minor league games, because sometimes our starters and other players get act there.

    Maybe the it the ultimate Dodger TV coverage. With the practice fields in action, Maury’s Place with the bunting practice, etc. Then the other fields, and minor league games.

    Really these are the real fun of Spring Training just the 1 pm or 7 pm game — but the side and back fields.

  5. It’s funny how one person only sees carbon and another sees a diamond.

    As far as I am concerned, Brett Anderson is gone for the season. Brandon McCarthy is gone for the season. Hyun-Jin Ryu is gone for the season. I am not counting on anything from any of them. If we get something, then that’s a plus I am not counting on. If we don’t, I still think this is the best Dodger team I have seen in quite a long time.

    Some of that has to do with a new “can do” attitude from the Manager and Coaches. Some of has to do with maturity and development of young players. Some of it has to do with health and some of it has to do with the deepest rotation in baseball.

    Who needs Ryu, Anderson and McCarthy when you have Kershaw, Kazmir, Maeda. Wood and De Leon, or Lee, or Bolsinger or Stripling or Urias or Frias or Cotton or whoever? The kids are ready to deliver. You got a glimpse of Maeda and De Leon today and if your eyes don’t tell you anything, well you need glasses.

    The Dodgers future is bright and it is NOW!

  6. I agree with you Mark. We have enough back up starting pitchers. I hope Zach Lee does well tomorrow. I am not a Bolsinger fan. Although he pitched well last year. DeLeon and Anderson looked good today.

    Where in the hell did Hegedin come from? I know it is early. Outside of the injuries, every thing looks good.

    I do not know how anyone could say they thought Montas would be injured. There is nothing in his background that would lead you to think he was injury prone.

  7. If this writer isn’t used to pitcher injuries he must be new to MLB. Anderson injury is perhaps a blessing in disguise since the youths seem to be busting down the wall. Ryu coming back strong, depending on who or what you read, is either a done deal or a forlorn hope. I certainly hope he comes back whole and not a fraction of his former effectiveness. Either way Dodger youth will be a factor very very soon.

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