The Dodgers moved fast and furious this offseason to bolster their starting rotation. When the season ended, the club had all of two established starters in their stable: Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. The Dodgers brought back Ted Lilly on Halloween, added Hiroki Kuroda two weeks later, then on Black Friday got up early to spend on Jon Garland.
Last year was a weird year for Garland in a couple of respects. After six straight seasons striking out less than five batters per nine innings, he fanned a career-high 6.12 per nine with the Padres. However, he also had his highest walk-rate in nine seasons, issuing 3.92 walks per nine innings, after 2.29 walks per nine over the previous five seasons. Part of the spikes had to do with Petco Park, though I'm not sure if there was a discernible reason.
|Jon Garland in 2010|
Those road numbers look more like the Garland of the last decade, albeit one with a higher strikeout rate.
Garland was signed to provide stability at the fifth starter position, something every team craves and the Dodgers lacked last season. The Dodgers got 122 starts out of their "front four" last season (which is really a front five, but Lilly and Vicente Padilla only overlapped for about two weeks), but the other 40 starts averaged 4.72 innings and a 6.34 ERA. Back when Garland was signed, I really liked the depth of the rotation:
With Garland, you pretty much know what you are going to get. He has made 32 or 33 starts in nine straight seasons, and has pitched between 191 2/3 and 221 innings in those nine years. He'll get you a FIP somewhere in the mid-fours, but Garland's strength is eating innings. Garland pitched six innings or more in 24 of 33 starts with San Diego last season (the fifth starters combined to go six innings in just 11 of 40 starts), and now the Dodger rotation has five, count 'em five, starters who average at least six innings per start. Call me crazy, but I'm actually excited about this rotation.
Fast forward four months later, and I'm still excited about the rotation, but the depth is getting tested. Garland has a left oblique strain that is expected to keep him out until mid-April or so, and as such he doesn't seem to be the lock for his usual 32-33 starts and 190-200 innings. However, once Garland is back, I expect him to be the innings eater he was signed to be. We just have to wait a few weeks or so for him to start.
Garland made a guest appearance on The Bernie Mac Show, in an episode entitled "It's Never As Bad As It Gets," that aired on April 7, 2006.
Garland signed a one-year, $5 million deal on November 26. He gets paid a $3.5 million base salary this year, plus up to $3.525 million in performance bonuses for pitching 150 to 190 innings. There is a $1 million signing bonus that will be paid in 2012, plus an $8 million club option for next year that vests if Garland reaches 190 innings and avoids the DL in September with a right arm injury. If the option doesn't vest, there is a $500,000 buyout if the Dodgers decline the option.
|2011 Projections - Age 31 Season|
I think Garland will be back by sometime near the end of April, then put up a 4.21 ERA in 173 innings.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Garland's ERA, number of innings pitched for the Dodgers, plus anything else you would like to predict.