A Look At Dodgers Starting Rotations

With the Jon Garland signing, the Dodgers have attempted to add a little more certainty to their starting rotation. They have five established starters, who will make somewhere between $26-30 million in 2011, rather than heading into spring with various question marks battling for the fifth spot. It's better to have John Ely and Carlos Monasterios as your sixth and seventh options than as your fifth, or even fourth starters, which was the case at times last year.

The Dodgers' 2011 rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, and Garland combined to make 157 starts in 2010, all starting at least 30 games. It's almost impossible to expect them to start that many games in 2011, just because things never seems to work out exactly as planned. That said, the Dodgers do have their best starting rotation from top to bottom in recent memory.

I looked back at the Dodger pitching staffs of the 2000s, to see how many starts they got from their top five starters. Keep in mind that this is hindsight, in that I looked at the top five pitchers ranked by number of starts they made during the season rather than the opening five to start the season (Ely had the fourth-most starts for the 2010 Dodgers, for instance, despite being well below the radar in March). Let's just hope someone other than the current starting five doesn't make this list for 2011:

Dodgers Top 5 Starters 2000-2010
Year Starts Pitchers
2010 128 Kershaw (32), Kuroda (31), Billingsley (31), Ely (18), Padilla (16)
2009 126 Wolf (34), Billingsley (32), Kershaw (30), Kuroda (20), Stults (10)
2008 135 Lowe (34), Billingsley (32), Kuroda (31), Kershaw (21), Penny (17)
2007 118 Penny (33), Lowe (32), Billingsley (20), Wolf (18), Hendrickson/Tomko (15)
2006 113 Lowe (34), Penny (33), Billingsley (16), Sele (15), Tomko (15)
2005 136 Lowe (35), Weaver (34), Penny (29), Houlton (19), O.Perez (19)
2004 138 Weaver (34), O.Perez (31), Ishii (31), Lima (24), Nomo (18)
2003 134 Nomo (33), Brown (32), O.Perez (30), Ishii (27), Alvarez/Ashby (12)
2002 147 Nomo (34), O.Perez (32), Ashby (30), Ishii (28), Daal (23)
2001 122 Park (35), Gagne (24), Adams (22), Prokopec (22), Brown (19)
2000 140 Park (34), Brown (33), Dreifort (32), C.Perez (22), Gagne (19)

That is 28 times a Dodger has made 30 starts in the last 11 years, about two and a half per year, never more than three pitchers in one season. The Dodgers have had five pitchers each start 30 games in a season just twice in their 127-year franchise history (1977 and 1993), and they have only had four pitchers start 30 games eight other times:

Dodgers With At Least Four Pitchers With 30 Starts
Year Starters Pitchers
1993 5 Astacio, Candiotti, Gross, Hershiser, Martinez
1977 5 Hooton, John, Rau, Rhoden, Sutton
1991 4 Belcher, Martinez, Morgan, Ojeda
1978 4 Hooton, John, Rau, Sutton
1976 4 Hooton, John, Rau, Sutton
1975 4 Hooton, Messersmith, Rau, Sutton
1973 4 John, Messersmith, Osteen, Sutton
1971 4 Downing, Osteen, Singer, Sutton
1966 4 Drysdale, Koufax, Osteen, Sutton
1899 4 Dunn, Hughes, Kennedy, McJames

Those 10 Dodgers teams combined for a .578 winning percentage, which translates into just over 93 wins for a 162-game season. Will Garland, who went to Kennedy High in Granada Hills, channel the spirit of Brickyard Kennedy, one of the four main starters for the 1899 Dodgers squad? Time will tell.

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