Dodgers starting pitcher Brett Anderson will have arthroscopic surgery on his back today for a bulging disc.... https://t.co/7whEwAPE0C— Doug Padilla (@DougPadilla) March 3, 2016
Some people don't have bodies that can hold up to the rigors of being a professional athlete. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers, starting pitcher Brett Anderson suffered a back injury while throwing batting practice Tuesday and will miss three to five months. Anderson reached the majors as a 21-year-old rookie with the A's in 2009 but has remained healthy in just two of seven seasons. One of those was with the Dodgers last year, when he went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 starts.
Anderson was penciled in as the Dodgers' No. 4 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda. Anderson's injury would seem to assure Alex Wood breaks camp in the rotation, coming off a season in which he posted a 3.84 ERA in 32 starts between the Braves and Dodgers. That leaves a slew of candidates battling for the fifth spot:
Mike Bolsinger would seem to have the edge over the others after performing well last season (3.62 ERA in 21 starts), which was his first full season. He's not a kid -- 28 years old -- and the Dodgers got him on the cheap, purchasing him from the Diamondbacks. He has one of the most unusual repertoires in the majors because he basically doesn't throw a four-seamer fastball or a sinker, instead relying almost exclusively on a cutter, curveball and slider. He doesn't throw hard -- his cutter averaged just 86.9 mph -- so he'll always have to prove himself, and he needs to improve the effectiveness of the cutter against left-handed batters (who hit .371 with a .443 OBP against it). But if you like underdogs, he's a guy to root for.
Brandon Beachy is in camp as a non-roster invite. Beachy was leading the National League with a 2.00 ERA with the Braves in 2012 when he blew out his elbow. He had one Tommy John surgery and then another and made two starts last year with the Dodgers.
Zach Lee was a first-round pick in 2010 who reached the majors for one start in 2015 and got shelled (seven runs and 11 hits in 4.2 innings). But he had pretty good numbers at Oklahoma City: 113.1 IP, 107 H, 19 BB, 81 SO, 5 HR. He hasn't developed into a strikeout pitcher, but he's a sinker/slider/changeup guy and the ZiPS projection forecasts a 3.78 ERA if he gets a chance.
Jose De Leon broke out in the minors last year with 163 strikeouts in 114.1 innings between A and Double-A, and Keith Law ranked him No. 60 on his Top 100 prospects list. He did give up 11 home runs in 76.2 innings at Tulsa, so more time in the minors appears likely. The same can be said of 19-year-old southpaw Julio Urias, Keith's No. 5 prospect who reached Triple-A for a couple outings but pitched just 80 innings last year.
And those are just the healthy guys. Hyun-Jin Ryu is coming back from the shoulder injury that sidelined him all of last season and is hopefully ready early in the season. Brandon McCarthy had Tommy John surgery and is aiming for midseason.
The Dodgers collected as much starting rotation depth as any team in the majors -- maybe more -- just in case an injury like this happened. Anderson's injury doesn't really have any effect on how I view the team. In fact, Anderson's ZiPS projected WAR of 1.9 is less than Lee's or Bolsinger's. (That already factored in the likelihood of Anderson getting injured, but the rate production of all three is projected to be about the same.)
With Kershaw, Kazmir and Maeda, the Dodgers still have a strong top three. As long as Kershaw makes his 30-something starts, the Dodgers should still have one of the better rotations in the league.