How Will Dodgers Handle Their Starting Rotation Issues?

Things are looking dire in the city of Los Angeles at the moment, at least if you’re a fan of the Dodgers.

It may seem silly to say things are dire when the team is in possession of the second most wins in the MLB, just a game and a half out of first. They still have many of their 2020 World Series championship team on the squad. But things are not looking good at all for the Boys in Blue, especially in the starting pitching department.

What’s more, the offense can’t quite ever be the juggernaut it should be. There are flashes, sure, but nothing consistent. The defense this year has left a lot to be desired. Justin Turner commented on this after the Dodgers’ extra inning loss on Wednesday. “We’re not doing all the little things right, and it seems like we’re paying for every mistake”.

One mistake the Dodgers are definitely now paying for is the signing of Trevor Bauer, and one can wonder if one is bleeding into the other. There were many warning signs with the controversial pitcher, from his narcissism to his online harassment of people who didn’t agree with him, especially women.

Now, they have lost Bauer for an uncertain amount of time because of sexual assault allegations. Currently on a seven day administrative leave, Bauer is also not expected back before the All-Star break. He may also not be back this season, or ever again.

And now, the next shoe to drop — Clayton Kershaw was placed on the 10-day IL with an forearm inflammation. After their extra innings and third-straight loss on Wednesday, Kershaw and Manager Dave Roberts spoke to the media about Kershaw’s injury.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Roberts said. “I think we’re going to have to be smart about this, knowing we’re going into the All-Star Break.”

When pressed on how it happened, Roberts said that Clayton first felt something playing catch on Monday.

“Something in his elbow. It just didn’t feel right. A lot of it is inflammation and we just thought it was best to get ahead of it and take care of him.”

Kershaw will have an MRI Friday when the team returns to Los Angeles.

Many times, forearm inflammation can lead to bad things, such as surgery. But before Thursday’s matinee with the Marlins, Roberts sounded more optimistic that Kershaw would only need the minimum 10 days or just a little more until he was able to return to the starting rotation.

As it stands right now, the Dodgers have just two pitchers from the Opening Day rotation still healthy — Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. In addition to Kershaw and Bauer being currently out, Dustin May went down at the beginning of May, eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Tony Gonsolin, who joined the rotation after being out with an injury for the first third of the season, still isn’t built up. Roberts has said they will work on building up David Price towards being a starter, but that will take some time.

Even if Price and Gonsolin were built up, that is still only four starters, should Kershaw not be able to return after the All-Star break. The Dodgers will have to do some finagling with their rotation to sandwich their bullpen games between starts when the pitchers are able to go deeper into games.

The All-Star break is coming at a good time for the Dodgers. The team will have to put together another bullpen game on Friday when they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last three game set of the first half.

The front office has some big choices to make as the team moves forward. Will they rely on just those they have in-house, and call up help from Triple-A such as Josiah Gray? A trade seems almost certain at this point. Other teams always ask for the moon when trading with the Dodgers, and now knowing that the Dodgers absolutely need a starter, the asking price for anyone will no doubt be high.

The next few weeks will be very pivotal, in the outcome from Bauer’s off field transgressions to Kershaw’s injury to whomever the Dodgers decide to trade for or call up. The club is lucky it’s in the position it is in — both in the division and with its farm — that it may be able to weather these multiple storm fronts and still make the playoffs or even win the division. But they’ll have to batten down the hatches for a bit until they can see the daylight of a healthy rotation again.

25 thoughts on “How Will Dodgers Handle Their Starting Rotation Issues?

  1. All the pundits will be after the Dodgers to make a trade from Need. That is not what Friedman has done in the past. Pepiot is pitching well I would bring him up. Price as you mentioned can be stretched out as can Nelson if necessary. Gray while building back up can be brought up to cover Price in the bullpen. Pepiot recently pitched a 7 inning no-hit start so he is ready to go. If you are an organization that looks to the future you do not panic nor do you make lopsided trades from a short-term need. Pepiot with his pitch selection and reportedly a killer swing and miss change should fit in well and he was one of the highlights last year at the offsite camp. The Bauer situation is going to be a long-drawn-out affair. The Dodgers cannot attempt to sign big contracts until their largest contract, Bauer is resolved!
    C’mon lots of very smart baseball knowledgeable readers, & commentators at Think Blue think! You aren’t going to get the National ace or anybody else of substance and big contract. Let’s speculate about possibles instead of outright wish-fulfillment fantasies…If I were Friedman I would stretch out Price and possibly Nelson but I would bring up Pepiot immediately. Drop Peters or Neuse or? from the 40-man and at least start the process with Gray and Pepiot. If Bauer goes to a longer admin list I am sure they can fill the slot on the 25 man roster. I might think about trading White or DFA as he has been given several shots and has not risen to the challenge he is 26 will be 27 at the end of the year and has a history of injury. Has good stuff but apparently cannot get guys out when it is necessary. Uceta is struggling too but he is only 23 so probably has a chance but White is too old to have this issue.

  2. Have to agree tmaxster. Trade seems unlikely with not much to send the other way. They will have to live with what they have and make some moves during free agency. Nelson and price should be better options than whatever they can aquire in a trade. Still leaves a huge problem in the bullpen.

    1. I think Ruiz would be the one they might trade. Might. And how much might they let Pepiot and Gray pitch if they brought either up?

      1. Andy, we finally disagree! I would not trade Ruiz he is way too valuable for an emergency trade that you will not receive full value for. Barnes is a very good catcher but he is back to hitting under .220 with poor OBP, SLG, and OPS numbers. A catching rotation of Smith and Ruiz next year after the strike and occasionally playing Turner at DH and Turner, Smith & Rios rotating at DH & 3rd makes more sense than keeping an offensive liability at catcher when you have the potential for a switch-hitting contact hitting phenom. Ruiz is hitting well at OKC last time I checked with more walks than SO so he continues to make contact.
        I think the Dodgers will wait it out. They are still in striking distance of winning the division and slowly getting their injured back. Seager is back soon. I really like Pepiot. I think Nelson is better than anyone they could get with a trade without seriously overpaying.

      2. I think nothing is off the table at this point, as far as trade scenarios. I wonder if they would bring up Ruiz and trade Barnes? (Really, just spitballing here)

        I find it interesting that they’re hesitant to stretch out Price, and haven’t mentioned stretching out Nelson at all.

        I’m sure Friedman has been busy working the phones and plotting as soon as this Bauer news hit. Up until that signing, he’s pretty much pulled the right strings. I’m intrigued to see what he does this time.

  3. I think we need to make a trade. I think we will make a trade. We also might try Pepiot, Gray, and Price, Nelson I leave in the pen. But those first three aren’t going to carry the team deep into the playoffs. They’ll pick up a few random starts here and there.

    It would appear that Kershaw is just taking advantage of the break and missing 1 start. I expect that to happen once a month the rest of the way. I expect Urias and Buehler to do it too. We should look for another innings eating starter. They will be made available.

    1. I think Price and Nelson can eat innings. You waste a lot of value if you trade in need and in a hurry. There is no need at this point and none of us know how the Bauer situation will pan out. The Dodgers are not going to do anything rash or large until the Bauer situation is settled.
      The Kershaw thing is hopefully just getting an extended rest before the AS Game. Urias and Buehler will need to take a start or two off eventually as others have suggested. Who could you trade for that is better than Price or Nelson and not cost the team a very high blue-chip? They cannot sign a big contract until the Bauer situation is resolved.
      Gray and Pepiot had very high marks at last year’s offsite.

  4. Andy, you mentioned the possibility of trading Barnes. I think, at this point, the only advantage that would bring would be to create a spot for Ruiz. Barnes won’t bring anything worthwhile in a trade. On the other hand, just finding a way to add Ruiz might be worth it. I could just see AF trading Barnes for a reliever that none of us had ever heard of and having him turn into something terrific. But at the time of the deal, nobody would care. They would just be happy to see Ruiz here.

    1. Yeah I don’t really believe it I’m just throwing shit out into the ether at this point for fun

  5. We’ve got plenty of prospects to trade. Prospects don’t have to be Major League ready to move them. I can think of several I don’t want to see traded, but, depending on who the return is, am willing to trade them. I also don’t see trading a catcher mid season. This team is going to need Barnes’ leadership down the stretch.

    1. I would not trade the young catchers or Miller, Vogel, Pages, Vargas including many of the young position players as the team has a shortage of them. There are a bunch of pitchers that are too old and blocked such as Peters, Reks, Raley, etc. that need to go. Give them a shot with a new organization that has spots on their roster.

      1. In the right trade, I’d move Ruiz. I’d move any one of them in the right trade. We will still have several with big league abilities that will step up eventually. As long as we are in a position to go for it, we should go for it.

      2. It’s incredible how many on that list are currently injured or are just back from being injured.
        Of the names on the list the only guys of interest to me would be Scherzer, Marquez and Means, none of whom I expect to be dealt.
        I’m still on my quest to get Kyle Hendricks from the Cubs. They aren’t going to be competitive for a couple of years so they should definitely trade him for prospects. Problem is they would ask for more than I would probably be willing to give them.
        This is where I turn it over to Andrew.

      3. As Jeff stated the guys that might be possible are players that will probably not be dealt or you would need to severely overpay. I think you stretch out Price and possibly Nelson or you bring up Pepiot and eventually Gray.
        The bullpen has been good but if needed Quakenbush has been effective at OKC. Gonsolin is beginning to slowly add innings his 5 innings with no runs in his last performance helped the club and gives up hope he will begin to constantly hit the 5.6 7 inning mark soon.

      4. I’m not as concerned about the injuries listed there as you guys appear to be. I’ll leave that up to Friedman. If they don’t check out in 3 weeks they won’t end up here. The first 4 on the list, plus Hendricks, would be the players for whom I’d trade top prospects. Getting Scherzer would light this team up. I still don’t think it happens but you asked what I consider the right trade and the list begins with him.

      5. This is the only decent year Gibson has ever had. I’m fine letting some other team grab him.

        Sonny Gray is always injured and didn’t do well in the spotlight of NY. Don’t think I’d spend the prospect capital the Reds are sure to be asking.

        With regard to Mr. Scherzer, I may have to withdraw my endorsement. He was leading SD 8-0 in the 4th tonight and gave up 7 runs, including a grand slam to the Pads relief pitcher Camarena. Max may not be worth giving up Ruiz, Vargas, Miller and Pages plus the other 4 guys the Nats will be asking for. Maybe they would just take Uceta, even up.

      6. Whoa, back up the truck Jefe. No way anyone gives up THAT much for a guy who is a free agent next year. He’s a rental, and has hinted he won’t go anywhere without an extension, and who’s going to give him one? (SF might You want him there?) Ruiz and a couple A pitchers could get it done. If not, forget it. Gibson is having his best year and that’s a problem for you? Not me. He’s making $9.6 mil this year and less than that next year. Bring that 4.1 WAR to LA! Gray is good, but not great. He’s 2-4 in Cincinnati so he wouldn’t cost much.

        Pitchers will be available. Teams will deal. Friedman will find somebody.

      7. Yes, I may have been exaggerating when listing the players the Nats might ask for, but since Scherzer says he won’t go anywhere without an extension, that no longer makes him a rental. Let’s say, he agrees on 2 years after this one. That makes him a guy with 2.5 years of control, definitely worth more than a rental.

        How can we justify giving up anything for a guy who gives up a grand slam to a relief pitcher. I think that Max’s performance in the 4th inning tonight indicates that he’s hurt again. I say get Hendricks who doesn’t throw hard enough to hurt himself.

        All in all, I totally agree with your last sentence. Let Andrew do the heavy lifting.

      8. Works for me.

        Make it so.

        This GM’n is easy.

        Now go get Rodriguez. You can use another one of those guys and some more A players.

  6. Is Price starting today?

    Last outing (the 4th against Washington) in 2 IP (5-6) 42 pitches (too many) 28 strikes (too few) no earned runs (just right). Can he go 5? Against the dbacks? Yeah. If he gets his pitch count down to 12, which he won’t.

    If he’s the guy that’s going to take the #5 role, today is the day to start stretching him out.

    1. He hasn’t been officially named yet, but more likely than not it will be Price. If they have an opener, I believe he will be the bulk guy.

      1. Well, if he can do it, it might be less urgency to make a trade.

        Then again….

        Bullpen games are ok once a blue moon, but not as often as we are doing it. Get a 5th Andrew. Heck, get a 6th while you’re at it. This could be a long second half for our starting rotation.

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