While the day for needing a fifth starting pitcher in the rotation is quickly approaching, the Dodgers felt a brief scare in their victory over Arizona on Sunday when righty Bud Norris exited his start after just 13 pitches in the top of the first inning.
After the game, however, Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts assured the media that Norris will not be affected long term by the tightness in his back, and that he’s not likely to miss his next scheduled start.
Even with a healthy Norris, the Dodgers will finally need to fill the fifth rotation spot in the middle game of the Red Sox series on August 6. As it stands now, along with Norris, the current rotation lineup includes Brandon McCarthy, Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir.
Lefty starter Brett Anderson is right on schedule with his recovery after having had back surgery in early March, and could provide some help soon, yet management is estimating that he’ll need to make at least two more rehab starts before being activated.
Up until around lunchtime on Sunday, the Dodgers front office seemed to be working vigorously in acquiring a formidable starting pitcher to add to the staff, but the general feeling amongst the fan base after Sunday’s victory was a sense of calmness, or perhaps even unimportance or insignificance. Still, the management crew has until 1:00 p.m. local time on Monday to scramble and negotiate a potential deal or two.
As far as in-house options, the two likeliest starters are rookies Julio Urias and Brock Stewart. Urias, who is apparently almost on the edge of a predetermined innings limit, has pitched a total of 88-1/3 innings this season between the big leagues and Triple-A Oklahoma City. His last appearance came on Tuesday for OKC, when he earned the win over Memphis despite surrendering two earned runs in two innings of relief. His last start in the bigs was on July 21 on the road against the Nationals, where he threw four quality innings and did not factor into the decision.
Stewart hasn’t thrown in the big leagues since taking the loss in his debut against the Brewers on June 29. His last start for Oklahoma City came last Thursday, when he pitched six innings of two-hit ball while surrendering only one run and earning the win against Memphis.
Rookie righty Jose De Leon, who is not a member of the 40-man roster, seems to be a fan favorite hopeful of making his major league debut at some point in 2016. The 23-year-old Isabella native last pitched seven solid innings Saturday night in a winning effort at Colorado Springs.
It’s also conceivable that current long man Ross Stripling slides into the rotation, if not for only the weekend start, so long as the Dodgers can make due with a traditional seven-man bullpen for a few days, or unless there’s an addition to the relief corps via trade.
There’s still no update on any type of progress from staff ace Clayton Kershaw. Since Kershaw’s last start on June 26, the starting rotation has averaged just 5-1/3 innings per start while tallying a 4.35 ERA. During that same time frame, the bullpen has recorded a 3.01 ERA, yet the club is still a proficient 18-10 in Kershaw’s absence from the pitching staff.
With the Dodgers having a travel day scheduled for Monday, the consensus among fans is that the front office will be extremely busy Sunday night through to the deadline, doing its best to leave no stone unturned in orchestrating a potential deal to improve the club heading into the final stretch of the season.