With Friday’s news that the MLB has placed Trevor Bauer on administrative leave due to assault allegations, the Los Angeles Dodgers are once again forced to decide how they will handle their starting pitching rotation.
There are several possible scenarios surrounding the outcome of Bauer’s absence. The length of his leave is seven days, which is intended to run parallel with investigations from both the MLB and the Pasadena Police Department. Should there be more time needed to investigate, the league can request a one-time extension for an additional seven days with consent from the MLB Players Association.
Although the Bauer camp continues to refute the victim’s assault claims, it is not appealing the league’s initial decision of administrative leave. As a result, the 30-year-old righty will miss his next scheduled start, which was slated for Sunday in the finale against the Nationals. Should there be an extension of his leave, it would stretch into the All-Star break, causing an even longer absence.
Regardless, manager Dave Roberts has already told reporters he will employ a bullpen game on Sunday to cover Bauer’s absence. The team recalled righty pitcher Brusdar Graterol on Friday to fill the roster spot vacated by Bauer. How the team will handle any future missed rotation turns by Bauer, though, remains to be seen.
No question, the Dodgers still have a solid rotation foundation with Julio Urias, Walker Buehler and ace Clayton Kershaw, but there will need to be some measures taken if Bauer will be away for an extended period of time.
Righty swingman Tony Gonsolin returned to the starting rotation on June 9 after an extended stay on the injured list, but he still hasn’t lasted beyond four full innings in any of his four starts. These starts have essentially resulted in bullpen games each time he has taken the hill.
The 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
With the summer trade deadline less than four weeks away, it seems logical that front-office boss Andrew Friedman will do some maneuvering to improve the Dodgers. The team certainly has its fair share of resources with which to barter as far as prospects go, although Friedman has always been known for his prudence in the smart deals he orchestrates.
One name that has risen to the top of many fan conversations is righty veteran Max Scherzer, who the Dodgers saw up close and personal on Friday evening. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer is in the final leg of a 7-year/$210 million contract with the Nationals. Over the coming weeks, Washington will be faced with the decision of becoming buyers, sellers, or staying put regarding player personnel.
A few other players who have been rumbled as potential trade candidates are Kyle Gibson of the Rangers, Michael Pineda of the Twins, and either Dylan Bundy or Andrew Heaney of the Angels. Aside from Scherzer, none of those names are overwhelmingly exciting, as the Dodgers might have better options from within the organization.
Jon Gray and German Marquez of the Rockies have been discussed as potential deadline candidates as well, but it could be tough for Los Angeles to orchestrate a fair deal with a division rival such as the Rockies.
David Price and Jimmy Nelson
Both David Price and Jimmy Nelson have reputable track records as MLB starters, and the Dodgers could end up using either as a rotation piece in the second half of the year. Coincidentally, there’s a good chance Price is used as an important bullpen contributor in Sunday’s game.
Nevertheless, the team has not yet indicated its desire to stretch out Price as a starter. Innings-wise, Price’s longest outing of the year so far was 2-2/3 frames against the Giants on May 27. In terms of pitches, he threw a season-high 50 over 1-2/3 innings against the Cardinals on June 1.
After a rocky start to the season, Nelson has evolved into one of the club’s most dependable bullpen pieces. Accordingly, it might be unwise to remove him from that role. Since April 27, Nelson has appeared in 13 games and has registered a 0.61 ERA with 26 punchouts and a .085 batting average against over 14-2/3 innings.
Still, if the team has intentions on pursuing someone like Heaney or Bundy, it probably wouldn’t make a difference if management decided to stretch out Price and save its prospect resources.
The Los Angeles Farm
So far, the Dodgers have given several prospects limited opportunities — some as starters, some as relievers — but aside from maybe Phil Bickford, none have really stuck. Edwin Uceta and Mitch White have been used as starters at certain points of their careers, but neither have yet to perform effective enough to be considered legit big-league options.
Right now, 22-year-old Gerardo Carrillo and 25-year-old Andre Jackson, both righty starters for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, are the only two pitchers on the 40-man roster who haven’t been used in the majors this year. Through 10 starts, Carrillo is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA. Jackson is 2-2 over 11 starts with a 3.91 ERA, tallying 62 strikeouts and 11 walks over 46 innings of work.
Jackson, along with highly touted infield prospect Michael Busch, will be representing the Dodgers on July 11 at the 2021 MLB Futures Game.
At the beginning of the year, there were hopes that top pitching prospect Josiah Gray would make his debut in 2021, but shoulder issues have kept the 23-year-old righty on the shelf since late May. Roberts confirmed to the media on Friday that Gray is not an option to join the rotation anytime “in the near future.”
Either way, the sooner the Bauer situation is resolved, the better the Dodgers will be able to prepare for the stretch run of the regular season and a prospective return to the playoffs.