CINCINNATI. No team has lost more scoring starting pitchers than the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, no other team plays so well. It’s part of life in blue.
“I was at a statue ceremony for Sandy Koufax last week and he was talking about how when you put on that uniform, the Dodgers have a lot of pitching heritage,” manager Dave Roberts said here Tuesday ahead of the Cincinnati game. “. Red. “And I believe that when you have Clayton Kershaw, the bar is raised very high. So the expectation for you to take the barrow for us is higher.”
Kershaw, who missed several weeks with a lower back injury, returned to resume his path to the Hall of Fame. The arms around him keep changing, but the results stay the same. Dodgers starters led the majors in average earned run through Wednesday at 2.62, despite missing out on a five-man rotation since 2021.
At various points last season, the Dodgers hired Max Scherzer, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buhler, David Price and Dustin May. These pitchers made 77 starts for a team that set a franchise record with 106 wins. All left the rotation.
Scherzer signed with the Mets. Bauer was suspended for two years in April for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. Buhler underwent elbow surgery this month for a flexor tendon strain and his return is unknown. The price is an average pitcher. May is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
However, for the Dodgers, this is just an opportunity to show themselves to others. Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson teamed up to go 17-0, helping the team retain the lead in the National League West in a virtual game against San Diego. Both rookies could be All-Stars for the first time next month.
“I feel like they never write anything off here,” said Anderson, a left-hander who signed with the Dodgers after six years with four teams — and earned a 4.62 average run. “Some teams, if you try something, they don’t really like trying new things. Whereas here they are not afraid to try new things – and they also know how to weed out what does not work. ”
Anderson, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal, modified his best move, a substitution. He is now the slowest of his kind among qualified NL pitchers, at 79.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, helping his usual fastball play.
Gonsolin has made a concerted effort to throw more hits this season, using his splitter more than any other NL starter. Teams have largely discouraged pitchers from using the field due to injury concerns since its heyday in the 1980s. But Roberts thinks the splitter should be back, and Gonsolin could show that if he starts the All-Star Game at home next month.
“That would be great,” said Gonsolin, who was selected by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2016 draft. “It would be great if it happened at Dodger Stadium. It would be just great to be a part of this environment, to get such an opportunity, if it actually happens.”
Andrew Heaney, who came back from a shoulder injury last weekend and nearly quit his shift, has a .59 ERA with 23 strikeouts and four walks in three starts. Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract after wrestling last season with the Angels and Yankees.
“Throw your best passes more often,” Heaney said. “It makes a lot of sense to me.”
Heaney, like Anderson, had a track record of mediocrity on several teams; over eight seasons, his ERA was 4.72. Yancy Almonte, a fitter from his fourth organization, has been successful by favoring lead weights over quads. Another pitcher, Evan Phillips, has had a 7.26 three-team ERA and a 2.43 ERA since the Dodgers called him out last August.
“We still have to compete; it’s not like we go to the Dodgers and they throw fairy dust on us and all of a sudden we’re who we are,” Phillips said. “We are all talented and I think they are just challenging us to bring out the best in ourselves. And in a room like this, having Hall of Famers and All Stars surrounding you left and right, it lifts everyone’s spirits.”
Kershaw, 34, ended last season on the injured list, but returned for a year and $17 million. He was with the Dodgers for 15 seasons, long enough to witness their last losing record (80-82 in 2010) and their return to the pitching dominance that defined Koufax’s heyday in the 1960s.
The Dodgers understand what you’re good at and use it in a lot of ways,” Kershaw said. “There are certain organizations that are really good at pitching. We are one of them. Cleveland is one of them. Tampa Bay is one of them. I think everyone does it a little differently, but it seems like the Dodgers are finding someone’s strength that can’t be seen on paper, but if you dig a little, you can see that this guy has some ability.”
This is the sixth season in a row that the Dodgers have the lowest ERA in the NL: 2.90 through Wednesday. Heaney said inter-departmental cohesion in the team’s extensive coaching and front-office structure made it easier to implement change.
“There’s an opportunity to say, ‘Let’s try something different,’ and the guys don’t worry about it,” Heaney said. “There is trust, like, ‘OK, they won’t bring it to me if they don’t believe it can open.’
General manager Brandon Gomez played for Tampa Bay under Andrew Friedman, who left to head baseball operations for the Dodgers in 2014. The baseline hasn’t changed much since he played, Gomes said, but teams have found more ways to apply it.
The old idea that players usually follow their set patterns – that they will play on the back of their baseball cards, so to speak – no longer applies.
“There are different paths for player development, and not just in the minor leagues,” Gomez said. “There’s also the development of major league players.”
The Dodgers could add more depth in the second half as May, Danny Duffy, Tommy Kanle and Blake Trainen may return from various injuries. The Dodgers are spending a total of $6,725 million on Daffy and Kanle this season, and if neither of them come back, they can afford that kind of play. Their bets on Heaney – and especially Anderson – are already paying off.
This portfolio sets the Dodgers apart from others. The team’s salary is about $260 million, according to Spotrac, which is slightly less than the Mets’ richest big-name players.
“Between how good they are at finding guys in a tight spot and their ability to spend money — at the end of the day, if you spend money, you get good players, and good players win games,” Kershaw said. “I don’t care how every other team thinks they’re going to do it, that’s how you have to have a good team to be able to do it. If you’re not going to spend money, you might have a good year or two. But you have to have good players, and good players cost money.”
The Dodgers’ big spending for the likes of Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and more matters the most. But their success in developing players in the majors could save the season.