Breaking Down the Dodgers: Starting Pitchers

The franchise that has entertained fans with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, and Orel Hershiser heads into the fledgling season with another generation of pitchers. The Dodgers have an interesting mix of veterans and young guys. Tyson Qualls highlights each piece of the rotation and reveals his predictions for the 2010 season.

Vicente Padilla:

Joe Torre's selection as the opening day starter, struggled during his 2010 debut. He was torched by the Pirates and received the loss in an 11-5 drubbing. Padilla should be better than that, but after a resurgence at the end of last season, the question is whether or not that was a fluke.

Torre seems to have a lot of confidence in the veteran. Padilla's success on the road certainly played a factor in Torre's decision to lead with him. Padilla has not finished a season with an ERA lower than 4.47 since 2003. It is hard to imagine Padilla maintaining his spot in the rotation throughout the season.

Prediction:
7-10, 4.98 ERA

Clayton Kershaw:

The true bread and butter of the rotation, Kershaw is a super star in the making. At the young age of 22, the southpaw is already one of the top pitchers in the National League. Kershaw will need to continue to improve his command if he is going to progress to the elite status. Last season he issued 91 free passes in only 171 innings.

Kershaw pitched well during Spring Training, posting a 2.25 ERA. His main weakness continues to be the walks, as he sent 9 batters to first base in 20 innings pitched. Still, in spite of the walks, Kershaw is the clear-cut ace of the Dodgers for this season and many beyond.

Prediction:
15-7, 3.13 ERA

Chad Billingsly:

The previous stalwart of the rotation, Billingsly has fallen on hard times of late. After a total collapse at the end of 2009, he has struggled to regain his grove. He finished with an unimpressive 5.71 ERA in Spring Training, but still managed to snag the third spot in the rotation. If he can recover and return to form, the Dodgers could have one of the best rotations in the National League.

Prediction:
14-10, 3.73 ERA

Hiroki Kuroda:

The Dodgers most consistent pitcher, Kuroda is a fantastic guy to have at the back of the rotation. When healthy, Kuroda is a guy who can frequently get the Dodgers to the sixth inning, where they can let the bullpen take over. His ability to keep the walks low and his ERA is the 3-4 range is better than most teams get from their 3rd starter, let alone the 4th. Kuroda is healthy and poised for a solid season after finishing with a sparkling 1.96 ERA in Spring Training.

Prediction:
13-5, 3.45 ERA

Charlie Haeger:

To the victor goes the spoils and Haeger earned his spoils. The knuckle-baller fended off what seemed like countless opponents in the race for the final spot in the rotation. Haeger has yet to prove his ability to pitch for an entire season and the Dodgers have many capable veterans waiting in the wings. However, Haeger is a great chance of pace pitcher. Haeger is the true wild-card of the rotation and could either completely combust or prove to be a valuable asset.

Prediction:
9-10, 4.78 ERA

Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls at tysonqsports@gmail.com

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