Projected Dodgers rotation with Yoshinobu Yamamoto on board

The Los Angeles Dodgers' offseason got even better when Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed the dotted line Thursday night.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan / Koji Watanabe/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Dodgers finished last season with 100 wins. That didn't prevent the 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks from booting them from the NLDS.

How did LA respond to last season's disappointing finish? Spend, spend, and spend some more.

Los Angeles landed Shohei Ohtani on a historic (and remarkably team-friendly) 10-year, $700 million contract a few weeks into free agency. Rather than rest on their laurels, the Dodgers subsequently traded for Tyler Glasnow from the Tampa Bay Rays and offered him a five-year, $136.6 million extension.

That alone was enough to establish the Dodgers as favorites in the National League. Still, the starting rotation profiled as a mild weakness. Glasnow is great, but limited availability is a persistent issue. Bobby Miller is still growing. Walker Buehler is returning from a year-long Tommy John absence. Clayton Kershaw hasn't decided on his MLB future yet.

All those concerns were laid to rest on Thursday when the Dodgers landed the offseason's second-best free agent (and its next Japanese star) in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who signed a historic 12-year, $325 million contract — the most years and guaranteed dollars ever for a pitcher, not including Ohtani. The deal includes multiple opt-outs and no deferred money. He rejected the same offer from the New York Mets, who worked overtime to court Yamamoto, only to lose out to LA's cross-country star power.

With Yamamoto in tow, here's how the Dodgers' rotation shapes up for the 2024 season, with the potential to improve even further in the weeks to come.

Los Angeles Dodgers projected 2024 starting rotation with Yoshinobu Yamamoto

1. Yoshinobu Yamamoto
2. Tyler Glasnow
3. Walker Buehler
4. Bobby Miller
5. Emmet Sheehan

That's rock-solid. Yamamoto should immediately claim the No. 1 mantle at 25 years old. He finished last season with the pitching triple crown for Japan's Orix Buffaloes, earning his third straight Nippon Professional Baseball MVP award — tying Ichiro Suzuki's record. Yamamoto went 16-6 in 23 starts last season, posting a 1.21 ERA and 0.884 WHIP with 169 strikeouts in 164.0 innings pitched.

His fastball resides in the high 90s and he is equipped with a potent collection of off-speed pitches, including a 12-6 curveball that can absolutely bamboozle batters.

Glasnow emerges as the clear No. 2. When healthy, Glasnow can pitch with the best of 'em. He's 6-foot-8 with blistering heat and a real intimidation factor. He finished last season 10-7 in 21 starts, posting a 3.53 ERA and 1.083 WHIP with 162 strikeouts in 120.0 innings pitched. Glasnow has overpowering stuff and could easily combat Yamamoto for the No. 1 crown if durability concerns are laid to rest.

Walker Buehler finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting back in 2021, but he struggled in 2022 prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the entire 2023 campaign. Now, he returns as the No. 3 starter and the Dodgers have the flexibility to ease him back into action. When right, Buehler is every bit the top-line ace LA was missing down the stretch last season. If all goes well for the Dodgers, their rotation could stack up with the MLB's best.

Bobby Miller, meanwhile, was highly involved in the Dodgers' recruitment of Yamamoto. He's a player the Dodgers believe in, and at 24 years old, he's liable to break out in the years to come. Last season was an enticing appetizer, as Miller went 11-4 in 22 starts with a 3.76 ERA and 1.102 WHIP.

The final projected starter, for now, is another 24-year-old — Emmet Sheehan. He appeared in 13 games (11 starts) for the Dodgers in 2023, going 4-1 with a 4.92 ERA and 1.193 WHIP. Quite the promising start to Sheehan's career. The Dodgers will be reliant on youth, but Yamamoto and Miller are easy to trust. There's every reason to have confidence in Sheehan as the No. 5 starter, too.

If the Dodgers can lure Clayton Kershaw back for another run, it only gets better. Next season, Shohei Ohtani joins the mix on the mound. The Dodgers are riding one heck of an offseason high.

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