For the Los Angeles Dodgers to win a franchise-record 111 games last year, a lot of things had to go right for them. Many of those lucky breaks occurred in the pitching staff, where several veteran pitchers drastically exceeded expectations.
In fact, a few of those hurlers have already been rewarded in free agency, earning significant raises following their strong campaigns.
Los Angeles Dodgers Free Agency
This winter's free-agent class has been dominated by Dodgers pitchers coming off of surprising bounce-back seasons with Los Angeles.
Tyler Anderson, for example, enjoyed a career year with the Dodgers last year, going 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA. He was also an All-Star for the first time, which few expected given that he came into the year with a lifetime 4.62 ERA and career 29-38 record. The Los Angeles Angels are buying the 32-year-old's belated breakout and showered him with a three-year, $39 million contract to prove it.
Anderson wasn't the only Dodger hurler who took his game to new heights last year. Andrew Heaney posted an absurd 13.6 K/9 after improving his spin rate. Despite battling injuries and inconsistency throughout his career, the 31-year-old southpaw inked a two-year deal worth $25 million with the Texas Rangers.
The trend continued in LA's bullpen as well, where Chris Martin and Tommy Kahnle both cashed in with multi-year deals. Martin, 36, signed with the Boston Red Sox after posting a 1.46 ERA with the Dodgers following a midseason trade from the Chicago Cubs. Kahnle, meanwhile, returned to the Yankees at age 33 after flashing a 2.84 ERA in 13 appearances last year before getting hurt.
There are several explanations for why all of these pitchers flourished with Los Angeles. The Dodgers play in a pitching-friendly park, have a great coaching staff and don't play in a particularly hard division. Combined with the great weather and relaxed atmosphere, that can be a perfect storm for some players. It remains to be seen if LA's reclamation projects can replicate that success in their new digs, especially the ones going to more intense baseball environments on the East Coast.
Based on how much their new teams are paying them, they better.