Going back to the National League playoffs, the Los Angeles Dodgers presented a lot of problems for opponents because their formidable starting pitching. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and ... hey, it's Clayton Kershaw again. Once the Dodgers got to the fourth spot in the rotation, they developed a spot of trouble with Ricky Nolasco.
Though they await the fate of Japan's Masahiro Tanaka, who projects to be better than a No. 4 (possibly much better), the Dodgers can feel more confident about the back end of their rotation after agreeing on a one-year contract Sunday night with right-hander Dan Haren for $10 million. The deal includes a vesting option for 2015. If he pitches 180 innings in 2014, it becomes a guaranteed deal for the next season.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke the news.
A three-time All-Star who twice has finished in the top seven of Cy Young voting, Haren is 33 years old and is coming off the worst season of his career — a 4.67 ERA with 28 home runs allowed 169 innings for the Washington Nationals. But, he was much better after he missed two weeks with right shoulder inflammation, posting a 3.29 ERA over his final 15 starts. His strikeout rate was above his career average and he always keeps the walks down.
Haren's past two seasons have been subpar for him, actually, but he seems to have gotten beyond what was ailing him. Haren has made at least 30 starts ever since becoming a full-time player in 2005 with the Oakland Athletics.
He's always had a propensity to allow home runs, and Dodger Stadium is pretty much a neutral park for power, but it also should help suppress his overall numbers. This is a strong move for the Dodgers. And if they're able to add Tanaka, they might win 144 games this season in the NL West. OK, that's high, but their starting pitching might be as tough as anyone's from top to bottom. No more need to bring back Kershaw on short rest in the playoffs, if they get there.
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