The Dodgers have a lot of higher-level pitching options for the starting rotation. Currently, the Dodgers line up with Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Noah Syndergaard as their starting rotation. They also have Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, and André Jackson, all well-regarded, and with major-league experience. Now, their two top starting pitching prospects, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone are getting close to being ready. Even with injuries and the possible loss of Urias, Kershaw, and Syndergaard to free agency after the season, there will still be a crowded bunch of starters in 2024 with the expected return of Walker Buehler.
Where does this leave room for all the starters coming up through the system that could be ready in 2024?
Of course, one solution will be to package some of this prospect capital in trades. The Dodgers have a lot of starting pitching prospects that other teams desire. If the Dodgers want or need to acquire elite players, those teams will want pitching. Heck, the Dodgers might want to trade for an elite starter like Corbin Burnes. At some point in the next year or two, I would expect the Dodgers to make a trade that would have to include a starting pitching prospect. It’s inevitable and it would help give all these prospects more opportunities.
All prospects understand that they don’t play games just for their team, they are showing off for all 30 teams.
The Bullpen Option
As I’ve spoken about in our last podcasts for Dodgers Prospects Prodcast (DPP), many of the pitchers the Dodgers have as starters would make excellent relievers. Some of the names I spoke of as being possible great relief options include:
Each of these guys throws hard and I would expect a tick or two addition to their velocity when they know they only need to throw one or two innings. I’m sure they’d like to stay as starters, but the quickest path to the majors would probably be their preference.
I think all of the above are pitchers that might be ready by 2024. Over the next few weeks on the DPP, we’ll be covering some of the pitchers at the lower level as relief candidates and I will talk about some of those who are starters right now.
The ideal is that all these players get a chance to be starting pitchers. However, that is not possible and the quickest track to the major leagues (and pay) is via trade or the bullpen. The bottom line is to get the best chance possible to reach the bigs.
There once was this pitcher named Pedro whose first season was spent as a full-time reliever. He was traded the next season and went on to become a starter, in fact, a Hall of Fame starter. His name is Pedro Martinez. Starting off as a reliever is not a death sentence for a pitcher. In some cases, it allows them to prove themselves in the major leagues and gets them paid.