With Clayton Kershaw Out, Justin Verlander Could Be the Answer for the Dodgers
The Dodgers ace is out for 4 to 6 weeks with a lower back strain, LA might want to find some starting pitching before the deadline
The LA Dodgers have been on fire this season. They currently boast the best record in all of baseball at 71 and 31, an astounding 40 games over .500. This past week their starting pitching took a hit though when ace of the staff and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, went on the shelf for 4 to 6 weeks with a back strain. Just a short time before that, they also lost Brandon McCarthy to the disabled list.
Regardless of the recent absences of two starting pitchers, the Dodgers continue to pitch well with a 2.94 ERA since the All-star break. But we have to consider the fact that Kershaw and Mccarthy just went on the DL in the last week. Alex Wood will now become the number one starter for the time being, followed by Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
I do believe the Dodgers will continue to play great baseball, led by an offense that has been tearing the cover off the ball. The one thing that could benefit this team, though, would be another legitimate starting pitcher.
A lot of talk is going around that Justin Verlander could be the ideal trade candidate for the Dodgers, even though he sports a hefty contract. LA has the money, and I think Verlander could add a spark to the rotation as the Dodgers head into the postseason in the next couple months.
Verlander is on the latter years of his career, but still has some filthy stuff in his repertoire. The numbers haven’t shown it this year, but when he is on, Verlander is very hard to hit. With Kershaw out right now, the Dodgers rotation is thin, but it should hold up as long as the bats keep showing up like they have. But adding a guy like Verlander to the staff, who has boatloads of experience, could be a huge benefit for the Dodgers. Even though he has a 4.54 ERA this year and one of the worst walk rates of his career, the 34 year old is a former Cy Young award winner and led the majors in strikeouts just a year ago. What about the playoffs? Well, he’s been fantastic, posting a 3.39 ERA through 16 postseason starts. Even though Verlander is older, his arm strength has looked spectacular, averaging 95.20 MPH, the highest average fastball velocity he’s seen in the last seven years of his career. The life on his heater has been phenomenal, where opposing lineups have generated a dismal .236 average off the fastball. The reason Verlander has been hit around this year is because he's lacked a consistent feel for his off speed pitches. Hitters have compiled a .294 average off Verlander’s changeup, a pitch that has been a plus offering for him in past years. Even the slider and curveball are being hit around, where batters are hitting over .270 against both pitches.
Here’s a good way to look at it. With Kershaw out for the time being, Verlander can be a number two or three starter in the rotation and eat up some innings heading into September baseball. But once Kershaw comes back just before the postseason, you have Verlander, Hill, and Wood complimenting Kershaw as the number one. That is a dominant rotation. Along with the way the Dodgers have swung the bats this year, this team will have a serious chance of making a deep playoff run. The Dodgers have failed to get past the National League Championship series for many years now, failing to make a World Series. Adding an experienced starter like Verlander could most definitely be the answer for LA. It wouldn’t be a long term investment for the Dodgers because he is 34, but for the time being it could really add a punch to the rotation, especially when Kershaw returns.
Put aside the disappointing numbers Verlander has put up this year. Instead, realize the type of quality arm he has, and what he can bring to the table for LA. He’s been very consistent in the playoffs, and I really believe he could be a nice addition to the Dodgers rotation and help them on their quest to be World Series Champions for the first time since 1988.