Atlanta and the Dodgers have opted for playoff-only starters

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves have taken different routes to address their starting pitching needs this offseason. While some teams have splurged on free agent pitchers, the Dodgers and Braves have opted to trade for pitchers who may not have to carry a full load during the regular season.

Last October, both teams faced issues with their starting rotation. Atlanta struggled with injuries to their pitchers, with Charlie Morton being sidelined and Max Fried not performing at his best. The Dodgers, on the other hand, entered the playoffs with a depleted rotation, relying on a half-baked Clayton Kershaw and some last-minute additions.

To avoid a similar predicament in the future, both teams have acquired pitchers who may not be expected to pitch a full season. The Dodgers traded for Tyler Glasnow, while the Braves acquired Chris Sale. These pitchers have a history of not being innings-eaters and have struggled with injuries in the past. Sale hasn’t pitched over 150 innings in six years, and Glasnow has never carried a full workload.

However, both teams have the luxury of not relying solely on these pitchers. The Braves have other options in their rotation, including Fried, Morton, Spencer Strider, and Bryce Elder. Even if Sale can’t provide a full season’s worth of innings, the Braves have enough depth to make up for it. Additionally, Atlanta’s priority will be making sure Sale is firing on all cylinders come playoff time, where his high-strikeout, low-walk repertoire will be valuable.

Similarly, the Dodgers have a cushion in the NL West, with only the Diamondbacks posing a challenge. They managed to win 100 games last season despite a depleted rotation, and now they’ve added Glasnow to the mix. The Dodgers can afford to protect Glasnow’s health and limit his workload during the regular season, knowing that they have other options and a comfortable lead in their division.

Both Glasnow and Sale are likely to have shorter outings during the regular season, and the teams may use six-man rotations to keep them fresh and minimize the risk of injury. The ultimate goal for both teams is to see these pitchers perform at their best in the postseason, where their dominant stuff can make a significant impact.

For the Dodgers, who have had a dominant decade but only one World Series title, adding another dominant starter is seen as a way to improve their chances in the playoffs. While there have been various reasons for their postseason struggles, the Dodgers believe that having another top-tier pitcher can make a difference.

In the end, the success of these trades will be measured by how these pitchers perform in the postseason. If they can deliver strong outings with high strikeout numbers, everything leading up to that point will be considered a success. The regular season becomes a mere preamble to the ultimate goal of a deep playoff run.

Both the Dodgers and Braves have taken calculated risks by acquiring pitchers who may not carry a full load during the regular season. However, with their depth in the rotation and the luxury of a comfortable division lead, they can afford to prioritize the health and performance of these pitchers in the playoffs. Only time will tell if these moves pay off, but both teams are hoping that Glasnow and Sale will be the missing pieces to their championship aspirations.

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