After already bouncing around four different teams at the ripe young age of 26, Haeger is looking to find a long term home with the Dodgers. Last year he was asked to step up in the midst of injuries and did so admirably. The knuckleballer pitched 14.0 innings, giving up only 3 runs in his first two starts. His third, and final, start of the season wasn't as smooth. Fortunately, he recovered nicely. As a reliever for the remainder of the season, he did not relinquish a run in three more appearances. He has yet to sustain consistent success on the big stage, but the confines of the pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine may give him a much needed boost.
A long shot to nab a spot at the back of the rotation, Monasterios will have to perform at an extremely high level to surpass the other candidates. As the contender with the least amount of experience (a mere two games above Single-A), the Rule 5 pick will have to repeat today's perfect inning performance throughout Spring Training.
One concerning factor is his lack of control. In his only full season as a starter in 2007, Monasterios threw a whopping 11 wild pitches. With veterans like Russ Ortiz and Towers in the mix, it is hard to imagine Joe Torre putting 20 percent of the team's games into the inexperienced hands of Monasterios.
McDonald is at the head of the pack; at least as far as a long term option is concerned. Torre would like to move McDonald into the rotation as soon as he is ready, but he does not want to rush the young right-hander.
In his first MLB appearance as a starter, McDonald was rocked for 5 runs in 2.1 innings, setting a tone for a less than epic rookie season. As a member of the bullpen, McDonald was consistent, yet not spectacular. It is no question that he has the stuff to be a top tier pitcher, now it is up to him to add the intangibles necessary to take his game to the next level.
A true journeyman, Ortiz has bounced around since his last successful season in 2004. After going 15-9 with the Atlanta Braves during that season, the ex-Giant has displayed an alarming lack of consistency. His ERA has been absolutely disturbing during the past four seasons. Ortiz has combined to go 10-28 with a ridiculous 6.80 ERA.
Unless Ortiz has found the same "Balco Fountain of Youth" discovered by Barry Bonds, he will be watching games at home before Spring Training ends.
The 36 year old veteran has not thrown a pitch in the majors since 2007. Like the other Ortiz, he has lacked the ability to get outs consistently during the past four years. It is hard to remain in the League if you have not posted a winning season over half a decade.
Perhaps the resurgence of Vicente Padilla has inspired the Dodgers' management to seek other aging pitchers looking for another chance at success. It is highly unlikely that either Ortiz will remain on the opening day roster, let alone secure a spot in the rotation.
A true innings eater when healthy, Towers is a valid option for the back of the rotation. Like nearly all of the pitchers battling for the fifth spot, Towers has had his fair share of struggles. He has appeared in only two games since 2007, when he finished with a dubious 5.38 ERA. Sadly, that was a drastic improvement from his 2006 ERA, a monstrous 8.42 in 15 games.
Towers could be a viable option, but he's built more to be a steadying veteran presence on a team in the process of rebuilding. The Dodgers are contenders in the National League and they will need more production than Towers can offer.
Stults is a player that Torre has found intriguing during his time in Los Angeles. He has bounced around between Vegas and the Dodgers during the past few seasons, but has been able to have a positive impact when he is in the Big Leagues. His performance against the Chicago White Sox's B squad, kicked off the competition for fifth spot. Stults has also shown the ability to go deep into games, pitching a complete game shut out in each of the past two seasons. Stults' best shot at securing the final spot, is to show Torre that he can keep the game close, while consistently going at least six innings
The two Ortiz's seasons will end before they can begin as the Dodgers part ways before April. Towers has an outside chance of making the team as a long reliever, depending on how much talent Torre can coach out of him.
Monasterios has the potential to contribute before the end of the season, but he will be sent down for more polishing in Las Vegas.
Stults should push McDonald and Haeger the most during Spring Training, but will fall just short of grabbing the final spot. Torre will keep him on as a long reliever and a spot starter, depending on injuries.
The final spot will come down to McDonald and Haeger, with McDonald taking over at the beginning of the season. If he struggles early, look for Haegar to steady the ship until McDonald can regain his confidence.
Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter with @tysonqsports