Last month we looked at Bill James 2013 projections for hitters, so let's turn our attention now to the pitching staff. First comes the starting rotation, which is currently eight deep.
This exercise is probably fruitless, especially considering that one or perhaps two of these starters will be traded either before spring training or before the season. Even then the projections, which are available on FanGraphs, aren't available for Hyun-jin Ryu, who has yet to appear in the majors, nor for Ted Lilly, who hasn't pitched since May and was limited to nine starts in 2012.
But let's look at the projections for the other six starters, which in many ways are even more optimistic than the projections for the hitters.
Clayton Kershaw: 18-7, 2.65 ERA, 221 IP, 227 K, 60 BB
Kershaw is projected for a fifth consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA, with many of the same numbers as last year, but with four more wins. After averaging 222 innings, 168 hits, 66 walks, and 230 strikeouts per season for the last three years, James has Kershaw at 221 innings, 170 hits, 60 walks, and 227 strikeouts in 2013. Sounds about right.
Zack Greinke: 15-10, 3.45 ERA, 222 IP, 209 K, 57 BB
If Greinke hits those projections, that would give the Dodgers a pair of pitchers with 200 strikeouts for the first time since Chan Ho Park (217) and Kevin Brown (216) in 2000.
Josh Beckett: 13-7, 3.26 ERA, 174 IP, 153 K, 51 BB
If Beckett is able to produce those kind of numbers in his projected 28 starts, Dodgers fans will be punch drunk with excitement. Maybe there is something to this even/odd thing with him.
Chad Billingsley: 7-7, 3.61 ERA, 122 IP, 108 K, 44 BB
Billingsley is the wildest of cards with his partially torn elbow ligament. Though the right-hander was back to throwing 90+ MPH fastballs in November, we won't really know anything about his availability for the season until he lets it loose in spring training. James projects Billingsley for 19 starts in 2013, but my guess is that next year will be more of an all or nothing season, in that he either misses the year with surgery or he is healthy enough to pitch the whole year.
Chris Capuano: 10-11, 3.90 ERA, 194 IP, 160 K, 54 BB
These numbers for Capuano, another year removed from surgery, are right in line with his performance the last two seasons.
Aaron Harang: 7-12, 4.53 ERA, 173 IP, 138 K, 73 BB
One year after benefiting from a career-best 6.3% rate of home runs per fly ball and allowing only 14 home runs, Harang is projected to allow 21 home runs in 2013, with his ERA jumping nearly a full run.
Again, this would have been far more instructive if projections were available for Ryu and Lilly, but the projections are interesting nonetheless. Plugging in the 145 starts projected for the top five above, with Harang filling in the other 17 games, the collective starter's ERA is 3.45, right in line with the 3.41 mark posted in 2012.
But this group is projected to pitch roughly 47 more innings (again, no Ryu or Lilly projections, so take with a grain of salt), which is essentially replacing the worst reliever in the bullpen with Greinke innings. That will work.