Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

I'm going to run through a little exercise here that involves math and the Dodgers' 2024 rotation. The reason for this is because I continue to have concerns about this bunch as the World Series favorites. 

In a 162-game season, there are roughly 1,450 innings -- at the high end -- that need to be filled by a pitching staff (162 multiplied by nine is 1,458, but a team won't need the ninth inning on the road when losing and some of those innings saved will be mitigated by extra innings). We know that a team would much rather have more than half of those innings, at minimum, come from the starters instead of the bullpen. Let's say at least five of the nine innings per game (55.5%), which comes out to a touch over 800 out of 1,450. 

Sure enough, 22 of the 30 teams last season got at least 800 innings from starting pitchers with two (Mariners and Astros) hitting 900. The playoff teams ranked second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth (the World Series champion Rangers), 12th, 15th, 20th, 22nd and 26th (the Rays, naturally) in starting pitching innings, so it seems like there's at least some correlation between starter workload and winning. Still, the Dodgers got 801 2/3 innings, ranking 22nd, and won 100 games. As such, let's just operate with the assumption that they should be shooting for 800 starter innings again while other, more normal, teams should look for 850ish. 

  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto worked 171 innings last season, following two 190-plus seasons, though he's never gotten to 200. There will be a stateside adjustment for his rookie MLB season, but he can probably get up into a similar range (Kodai Senga last season, for example, went 166 1/3 innings and his career high in Japan was 180 1/3). Let's give Yamamoto 180 innings pitched. 
  • Tyler Glasnow totaled 120 innings last season. It was his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, but it also marked his career high. He's only gone over 100 innings twice in his eight seasons. I'm fine with believing he'll set another career high, but it's pushing it to even predict 150. Let's say he gets to 140. 
  • Bobby Miller threw 138 2/3 innings between the minors and majors last season. It's reasonable to believe he'll top 150, but I'm not sure how much further the Dodgers would want to go with the promising 25-year-old (he turns 25 April 5). Let's just stick with 150. 
  • Walker Buehler is coming off Tommy John surgery and was unable to return late last season. He's also had his start to 2024 delayed and will start the season on the injured list. It doesn't sound promising for a huge workload. Even once he's back in the rotation, they surely won't take him deeper than five innings for a bit. I think it's too aggressive to count on more than 100 innings, so that's where I'll settle.  

That's 570 innings pitched right now and I don't think I've been overly conservative. If anything it might be too high. Where might the other 230 or more innings come from? 

  • James Paxton is 35 years old. He pitched 20 1/3 innings in 2020, 1 1/3 in 2021, zero in 2022 and 96 last year. 
  • Clayton Kershaw has had surgery and is expected to come back in August. Maybe. It might be September. The goal here is to have him ready to be himself by the playoffs. 
  • Dustin May has started a throwing program as he looks to return from elbow surgery, but he's not expected back until the second half. Can his arm be trusted to hold up in a regular rotation spot once he's back this year?
  • Emmet Sheehan worked 123 1/3 innings between the minors and majors last season and enters his age-24 season. 
  • Ryan Yarbrough started nine games last season, going 46 innings in those games. He's generally better in smaller doses, such as in a relief role. 
  • Michael Grove and Gavin Stone will also figure in the mix. 
  • There's also a trade deadline and a savvy front office running the team. 

It might seem nitpicky, but this entire picture is why -- while they look like a great team -- I don't think the Dodgers are set out to make a mockery of the rest of the league or anything. They are going to be piecing together a starting rotation all season and there are question marks on every single player I've mentioned here, some of them pretty serious questions (Buehler and Kershaw, namely). 

Biggest Movers
3 Rangers
6 Brewers
1 Braves The Dodgers have more megastars, but the lineup and rotation are both deeper on the Braves, who have plenty of star power on their own. -- 0-0
2 Dodgers (Continued from the introduction) Of course, Los Angeles is still totally loaded and will make the playoffs with relative ease. It isn't too difficult to picture a stout playoff rotation, either, such as: Kershaw, Buehler, Yamamoto, Glasnow. The front office is just going to have to be creative in working through the starting pitchers during the regular season (and I trust they'll be excellent in doing so). I could see another 100-win season, but I'm very confident they can't get to the 111 mark, as they did in 2022. 1 0-0
3 Astros That Josh Hader signing was a pretty nice stroke, as the bullpen was looking a bit thin. The road to the AL pennant still runs through Houston. 1 0-0
4 Orioles I can't tell you how much I love the Corbin Burnes addition. Beautiful. Knocking everyone else down a spot makes the rotation as a whole look strong, too. 2 0-0
5 Rangers Don't mind me, I'm just thinking ahead to the Rangers hanging on the periphery of the playoff chase toward the end of August and then having a fully functional Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom down the stretch. As this team showed last season, all you've really got to do is make it in. 3 0-0
6 Yankees It's reasonable to expect upticks from Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodón in the rotation, but who are we kidding? All the fun here is Juan Soto and Aaron Judge hitting back to back. 2 0-0
7 Phillies While there are no major additions from outside the organization, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Phillies will be better (a more consistent Trea Turner, a full season of Bryce Harper, better versions of JT Realmuto and Aaron Nola, etc.). If they can make the postseason again, and odds are they will, they'll once again show they are better built for the playoffs than the 162-game season. 2 0-0
8 Rays The personnel as a whole just doesn't look that great, but I've more than learned my lesson with this bunch. I refuse to put them any lower. 1 0-0
9 Diamondbacks This is an intriguing ballclub that will go through bouts of inconsistency. There's a lot to like, though. The rotation is much stronger than it was a year ago at this time (the growth of Brandon Pfaadt plus the addition of Eduardo Rodríguez plus no Madison Bumgarner) and the proverbial sky is the limit with Corbin Carroll. Plus, remember how they rebuilt that bullpen down the stretch and it was mostly a plus in the playoffs? The major components there are back. 1 0-0
10 Twins The best team in the AL Central made a dent in the playoffs and now it's time to take the next step. There are a few reasons to believe they'll be better on offense, but losing Sonny Gray really hurts. 1 0-0
11 Mariners Good (maybe great) rotation along with what could be a deep offense surrounding an MVP candidate. It certainly sounds good on paper. I love seeing Mitch Haniger back in Seattle, too. 1 0-0
12 Blue Jays They're good. Maybe really good! It's just hard to be excited anymore. It's been three straight seasons of great excitement and zero playoff wins and the team is pretty similar. All it takes is one magical run, though, as the Rangers showed. 3 0-0
13 Padres Heading into 2021, the Padres were heavily hyped and fell flat. Then in 2022, with the hype train muted, they went to the NLCS. Last year, the expectations were higher than ever and they fell flat. Of course, they were still 82-80 and badly underplayed their run differential due to things like a 9-23 record in one-run games and a 2-12 record in extra innings. It's not the exact same team, as losing Juan Soto, Blake Snell and Josh Hader badly hurts, but there's enough here for a playoff run. It would be foolish to sleep on them with all this high-end talent. 1 0-0
14 Cubs It's a wide-open division and it's been a half-measure of an offseason. We heard for years that when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer worked together Epstein was the aggressive one and Hoyer served as a check on that front. Now with Hoyer in charge, this is what happens. Maybe it'll work out. Time will tell. It just seems conservative to a fault, given all the circumstances here. 1 0-0
15 Reds It feels like there's a lot of variance here in terms of the possible outcomes with this roster. The upside is incredibly promising, though, with so many high-end youngsters. The outside-organization additions really deepened the pitching staff, too. I'd be excited, Cincy. 1 0-0
16 Cardinals They badly needed to address the rotation this offseason and did, though we could argue on whether or not it was enough. Still, the offense that finished 10th in the NL in runs and sixth in OPS has been unchanged. Will there be enough internal improvement there to get them back to the playoffs? That's the bet John Mozeliak has placed. 2 0-0
17 Red Sox They aren't awful or anything, but this just isn't a very good team and it's stuck in a tough division. It'll be interesting to see the route taken by new boss Craig Breslow heading toward his first trade deadline, as I expect them to be out of contention by that point. 2 0-0
18 Mets It's been an understated offseason, but the Mets could probably use one of those, especially after the quick playoff exit in 2022 and last season's failure. It'll go methodically here under David Stearns. 1 0-0
19 Brewers It's a bit of a reset, but not a total teardown. They'll remain competitive. 6 0-0
20 Giants Until Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray return, whenever that'll be (a while), the rotation behind Logan Webb is a joke. It is also wide open for the addition of Blake Snell, right? RIGHT? 2 0-0
21 Pirates The NL Central has a chance to be a pretty fun race. I'm not sure there are any actually good teams, but none of them seem really bad, either. I guess I'll sum it up like so: I have the Pirates last among the five teams right now, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them win the division. 3 0-0
22 Marlins Easy and obvious backslide candidate here. Just because it's easy and obvious doesn't mean it isn't true. It is true. They'll be much worse than that 84-78 record from last season indicates. 1 0-0
23 Tigers This seems like a possibly mediocre team that could play spoiler plenty of times against actual contenders. There are worse things to be during a rebuild (and Tigers fans know this from experience). -- 0-0
24 Guardians Shane Bieber is a free agent after this season. Keep an eye out for a midseason trade. Maybe even early season or spring training. 4 0-0
25 Angels The Angels had one of the worst bullpens in baseball last season and attacked that weakness this offseason, adding five relievers in free agency. It's hard telling how much it can add, or, more specifically, if shoring this area up can make them a playoff team. They did have 37 bullpen losses and 28 blown saves last season when they were 73-89 overall. -- 0-0
26 Royals Let's take a second to praise the Royals, earnestly. They only won 56 games last season and have the built-in "small market" excuse, yet they've been shoring up the ballclub at the margins throughout the offseason and then gave a huge extension to young superstar Bobby Witt Jr. Very well done here. -- 0-0
27 Nationals This is it. It felt like this would never come. Yes, it is the last year of Patrick Corbin's deal. Will he lead the league in losses for a fourth straight year? Even if that's the case, this deal was a success because the Nationals won the World Series in Year 1. Anything after that would've been gravy and while there was none, the World Series title is a juicy enough piece of meat on its own. -- 0-0
28 White Sox Are you sure you want to hold Dylan Cease heading into the season, Chris Getz? Obviously we can't see what kind of offers they are getting, but it feels risky. Then again, Cease could party like it's 2022 for a few months and then Getz would look like a genius, as plenty of teams will be looking for midseason rotation help. -- 0-0
29 Rockies The Rockies haven't won more than 74 games in a season since 2018. That won't change this coming season, either. It's just an incredibly poorly-run franchise. -- 0-0
30 Athletics Pre-injury last season, I really enjoyed watching Mason Miller's work. He flashed huge upside and struck out 38 in his 33 1/3 innings. He'll work out of the bullpen this season, possibly as a stud closer, but his future is (hopefully) in the rotation. -- 0-0