Party 4By Jon Weisman

How the Dodgers’ starting rotation is like the family from the 1994-2000 Fox television series ‘Party of Five’ …

Clayton Kershaw = Charlie Salinger: Older than his years, young by any other reasonable standard, Clayton/Charlie is the unquestioned leader. Everybody loves him. Everybody wants him. This rotation/family could thrive or dive depending on his presence, and fans will be in awe over his always perfect amount of facial hair. But on rare occasions when even he needs a lift, we turn to the rest of the clan.

Kenta Maeda = Bailey Salinger: There are moments when Kenta/Bailey seems like he’s in over his head. Sure, he might have had this whole Hiroshima Carp/Grant High School thing figured out, but how was he going to do in the life’s big leagues? Well, guess what — with an occasional stumble, maybe a lesson to learn at the end of each hour, Kenta/Bailey is going to do just fine with a little dash of awesome, thank you very much.

Scott Kazmir = Julia Salinger: Life’s a challenge. Scott/Julia had to grow up fast. Faster than you might recommend. And there has been some genuine trauma that you might have thought would sink him/her for good. But Scott/Julia is deeply resilient. His/her intentions and loyalty are unquestioned, and there is a palpable yearning for something greater, for action to become meaningful. Underestimate this one at your own risk.

Julio Urias = Claudia Salinger: Ah, the prodigy. Far ahead of any typical timetable, the ridiculously precocious Julio/Claudia puts his/her gifts on display, and you just marvel. Not only are you still discovering him/her, but he/she is still discovering himself/herself. You don’t want to ask too much — you only want to protect — but at the same time, you almost feel guilty holding this adult-child back. Just stand back and watch the genius at work.

Owen Salinger: The wild card. The tabula rasa. The future waiting to be written. Heck, from year to year or even week to week, you can count on different people playing the part. He might even annoy you at first. But you go one start/episode at a time, and you simply hope that he survives, and makes you smile now and then. He could even help provide the ultimate happy ending, if the seasons run long enough.