If you go to the museum of modern baseball, a fictive place that really should exist, you’ll find a room full of the latest trends.
On display at the center of the room is a portrait of the Los Angeles Dodgers depth. Over the last half-decade of baseball, the Dodgers depth has been one of the prominent storylines in Major League Baseball.
It’s part of what endeared Farhan Zaidi to the San Francisco Giants - the thought that he could build a 25-man roster full of 25 quality players, with another 10 or so waiting in the wings of the 40-man roster.
We’ve seen it with the Dodgers position players, where their backups have gotten so good that they’re no longer backups, but rather a rotating cast of starters. The Dodgers legitimately have six different players who, if plugged into the San Francisco outfield, might become the Giants token All-Star representative.
But the depth has really been on display in the rotation, where the Dodgers have repeatedly had the common sense to build seven or eight men deep, rather than blindly hope that all of their players will make it through 162 days of competitive athletic stress unscathed.
The Dodgers have won the National League West six years running (though they’ve yet to win a World Series in that time, but who’s counting [I’m counting]), and here’s the number of pitchers who have started a game in that time:
2013: 11 (10 with at least five starts)
2014: 12 (seven with at least five starts)
2015: 16 (seven with at least five starts)
2016: 15 (11 with at least five starts)
2017: 10 (eight with at least five starts)
2018: 11 (seven with at least five starts)
Now, many teams start that number of pitchers, because they’re forced to. Where the Dodgers are unique is that they have the foresight to actually plan for that reality.
Which brings us to 2019.
The Dodgers starters are third in the league in FIP, at 3.72, a collective mark that’s substantially better than any Giants starter save for Madison Bumgarner and Shaun Anderson. Los Angeles ranks third in the NL in starting pitcher fWAR, at 4.5.
And that’s despite starting the year without Clayton Kershaw. You may have heard of him.
The Dodgers depth will once again be put to the test. Earlier in the week, Julio Urias, who has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, was placed on indefinite leave, following an arrest. And today, the team placed Kenta Maeda on the 10-day Injured List.
The Dodgers today recalled IF Matt Beaty and selected the contract of OF Kyle Garlick. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Dodgers placed RHP Kenta Maeda on the 10-day injured list with a left adductor contusion.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 17, 2019
For some teams, these are the types of breaks that become insurmountable challenges.
But the Dodgers are doomsday preppers, and having new arms to plug into the rotation is all part of the plan.
It’s remarkable, if you squint enough to forget that it’s the Dodgers.