Homegrown starting pitching has always been apart of Dodger lore. From Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Don Sutton, to Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, to Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, the Dodgers have a proud history of developing starting pitching from within their organization. Now, in the year 2019, the Dodgers have one of the strongest rotations in baseball, and one that could continue to feature homegrown stars for years to come. The current iteration of the Dodgers rotation features just one player who did not begin their career in the Dodgers: Rich Hill. Hill also happens to be a free agent after this season, along with Hyun-Jin Ryu. While the potential for unexpected moves is always likely with Andrew Friedman and company, the Dodgers are more than ready to fill those rotation holes from within.
Beyond this year, the Dodgers already have Kershaw, Buehler, and Kenta Maeda likely occupying three of the five available rotation spots. Julio Urias, provided he’s healthy, will also probably take a spot as well. Ross Stripling might always be both a starter and reliever, as the Dodgers seem content to move him back and forth between the rotation and bullpen for the foreseeable future. If they decided to commit to him as a starter, he’d certainly be a more than viable fifth option. Beyond Stripling, Caleb Ferguson saw time in the majors last year as a reliever, and the Dodgers are currently building him up as a long reliever this spring, still leaving the option open to have him develop as a starter in the minors this season. Dennis Santana is also major league ready, but will likely return to Triple-A and continue to develop unless more injuries occur. Even further down the ladder, top prospects Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin have both impressed in their limited big league action this spring.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 14, 2019
Without even lifting a finger, the Dodgers have NINE rotation options for next year and beyond just solely within their own organization.
This, of course, does not even include several other prospects who could factor into the Dodgers‘ rotation plans in the next couple years. Mitchell White and Yadier Alvarez have both dealt with injuries and inconsistency, though both have been considered top 100 prospects at one point during the past two years, and both finished last year at Double-A with May and Gonsolin. Even further down the line, Josiah Gray, Michael Grove, John Rooney, and Braydon Fisher all are still in their first year in the organization, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a breakout from any of the four in their first full season with the team. And after Dennis Santana’s success, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the Dodgers could do the same with another unheralded international signee, such as Edwin Uceta or Gerardo Carrillo. While it’d be silly to assume all eight of those prospects will live up to their potential, or will remain in the organization long term, the Dodgers have one of the best developmental staffs in baseball, who’ve helped keep the farm system as one of the best in baseball despite numerous departures via trade and graduations, all while the team continues to find success at the big league level.
Looking back at the past few World Series winning teams, while almost all of them featured homegrown starting pitching, none of them had an entirely homegrown rotation. The Red Sox had Chris Sale, the Astros had Justin Verlander, and the Cubs had Jon Lester. Even the Giants’ dynasty of the early 2010’s, led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, also received considerable contributions from guys like Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong. The Dodgers have the chance to build something special from players who’ve never known anything except being a Dodgers, and they have a chance to do it sooner than most would think. And while there is no overt statistical advantage from a player developed within the organization to one outside of it, it’s all the more aesthetically and emotionally pleasing to see players succeed for the organization that invested in them as amateurs.