Dodger rookie starters make extraordinary impact

Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

By Cary Osborne

Start a bunch of rookies, lose a bunch of games. It’s a formula that dates back to early 1900s, when the St. Louis Cardinals regularly featured rookie starters in the first decade of the century, including a rookie with one of the great names in baseball history — Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.

In 1902, 1903, 1905 and 1906, the Cardinals had at least three rookie pitchers start at least 13 games in each season. The Cardinals’ combined winning percentage in those four seasons was .363. Eleven of the 67 teams who have had rookies start at least 13 games have lost at least 100 games.

That’s what makes what the Dodgers have done this season with their rookie starters so exceptional.

The Dodgers have 60 games started by rookies this year and have a 35-25 record in those contests. The five rookies (Kenta Maeda, 28 starts; Ross Stripling, 14; Julio Uriás, 13; Brock Stewart, 4; and Jose De León, 1) have a combined 3.84 ERA in those games.

This is the only season when the Dodgers have had more than two rookies start at least 13 games.

This is also the most starts by rookies in Los Angeles Dodger history. The 1995 Dodgers got 55 starts from Ismael Valdez and that season’s National League Rookie of the Year Hideo Nomo.

The franchise record is also about to fall. The 1952 Dodgers got 62 starts out of rookies — Ben Wade, Billy Loes, Johnny Rutherford and Joe Landrum. The Dodgers won the National League championship that season, but lost to the Yankees in seven in the World Series. Loes, who started 21 games during the regular season, was the only Dodger rookie to start in the World Series. He pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs in a 3-2 heartbreaking loss in Game 6.

Of the 67 teams who had three rookies start at least 13 games, nine of those squads finished over .500. Just one won a division title and is the only team of the nine to make the postseason — the 2012 Oakland A’s.

They might have company this year.

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