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MEDIC!
2003-01-09 11:15
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Let's get right to our preview of the Dodgers' starting rotation.

MEDIC!

Here are the projected starters:

Odalis Perez, LHP, 15-10, 3.00 ERA
----25 years old and outstanding last year; opponents had OPS of only .605
Hideo Nomo, RHP, 16-6, 3.39 ERA
----Fortunately, team eased off after he threw 254 pitches in two early Sept. starts
Kevin Brown, RHP, 3-4, 4.81 ERA
----Anyone's guess whether he has a good year left
Andy Ashby, RHP, 9-13, 3.91 ERA
----Was very good before All-Star Break in 2002, declined thereafter
Kazuhisa Ishii, LHP, 14-10, 4.27 ERA
----Wasn't even that good when he was good

The story with the rotation is simple. The Dodgers have depth in the sense they have six starting pitchers, including Darren Dreifort, but four of them had injury-plagued seasons in 2002 and the other two have had serious arm troubles in the past.

Dreifort is said to be 100 percent now, but of the six, he's best suited to work out of the bullpen, so I'm putting him there for now. But no doubt, even if he doesn't begin the season in the rotation, he will find himself there at some point, much as Omar Daal did last year.

I would say that each member of this rotation has the talent to win 12-15 games - and if they all do that, the Dodgers will contend. But this is definitely not a staff like an Oakland or Atlanta, where you can count on the good guys being good and the great guys being great. If Brown is done, and if Ashby is done, and if Ishii and Dreifort don't recover and improve, and if Nomo and Perez tail off ... look out.

Coming up: The bullpen.

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