Dustin May rolled up an outstanding 2.57 ERA for the Dodgers during the shortened 2020 regular season, taking 10 turns in the Los Angeles rotation and making two other relief appearances. Tony Gonsolin made eight starts and one trot out from the bullpen, with a sparkling 2.31 ERA to show for his efforts.
The Dodgers, reigning World Series champions, suddenly don’t have room for either pitcher in their 2021 five-man rotation, now that they’ve added 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to the mix. Bauer and the Dodgers reportedly agreed on a three-year deal Friday afternoon, worth $102 million. Bauer will make $40 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022, and he has opt-outs after each of the first two years.
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This signing is Los Angeles’ response to the offseason activity of the NL West rival Padres, who traded for both Blake Snell and Yu Darvish to add to their rotation this in an attempt to not only catch the Dodgers in the division, but to win a World Series. And now, the Bauer addition in Los Angeles.
In the words of noted San Diego newsman Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly.”
It certainly has jumped up a notch. Bauer joins a rotation with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and David Price, the veteran starter who sat out the 2020 season for COVID reasons. May and Gonsolin, for the time being, at least, have been relegated to the bullpen. Of course, spot starters will be needed, and both Kershaw and Price are in their mid-30s, so depth is not only a luxury, it will probably be a necessity at some point.
The goal for both the Padres and Dodgers in 2021 is to win a World Series championship, of course, not just claim NL West superiority. L.A. will look to win back-to-back World Series titles for the first time in franchise history, while the Friars are looking for their first World Series crown, period.
As we’ve seen time and time again, pitching is incredibly important in October. The Dodgers have to like how they’re set up, assuming everyone is healthy. Look at what their top four starters did in the 2020 postseason (Bauer was with the Reds, of course).
Buehler: 1.80 ERA, 25 innings, 39 strikeouts, 18 hits
Urias: 1.17 ERA, 23 innings, 29 strikeouts, 11 hits
Bauer: 0.00 ERA, 7 2/3 innings, 12 strikeouts, 2 hits
Kershaw: 2.93 ERA, 30 2/3 innings, 37 strikeouts, 23 hits
Oh, and in Price’s most recent postseason experience, he had a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings in the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers.
There’s a long way to go, and we learn every year that things in baseball quite often don’t follow whatever script we might think is in place during spring training, but L.A.’s chance of repeating looks pretty good right about now.