The Two Most Important Issues for Dodgers in Second Half of Season

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves on the brink of the second half of the season. The MLB 2021 Trade Deadline is quickly approaching. The team is still in second place in the NL West. What can fans expect in the months to come?

There are two things that are most important as the Dodgers continue their quest to win back-to-back World Series — their starting rotation and winning the NL West division.

As they begin the second half, the Dodgers only have two starters from the beginning of the season healthy, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. Buehler will no doubt be the anchor to this rotation for the rest of the season and going into the postseason.

Urías has been very good so far this season, currently tied for most wins in the majors. But he has had some less than stellar outings, and at 106.2 innings, has already pitched more than he has in any season in the big leagues. But the Dodgers were slow to build him up in previous years, and they will need him to be able to continue to eat innings.

Clayton Kershaw finds himself currently on the 10-day injured list with inflammation in his left forearm. He is, however, expected to make a return to the Dodgers starting rotation in the next week week or two.

Trevor Bauer has seen his administrative leave extended by another two weeks while being investigated for sexual assault allegations. It is unclear if he will ever or should ever return to the Dodgers. He has a protection from abuse order against him from the woman he allegedly assaulted. Bauer has a court date of July 23.

Dustin May had to have Tommy John surgery on his right arm in the beginning of May and will be out until at least the end of next season.

All of these circumstances have left the Dodgers with a lot of bullpen games. Tony Gonsolin returned from the injured list to become a starter again, but has only been able to make it through three to four innings, with his longest outing so far being 5.1 innings on July 6 against the Miami Marlins.

David Price, who expected to be mostly used out of the bullpen, is now being built up for a return to the starting rotation. But so far, the longest he has pitched in a game is 3.0 innings, which was in his last outing before the All-Star break.

As such, with all these circumstances, the Dodgers find themselves with work to do before the trade deadline. Once the deepest rotation in baseball, they find themselves with three and a half starters. What avenue will the Dodgers take – making a big splash at the deadline? Bring up some help from Triple-A Oklahoma City like Josiah Gray or Ryan Pepiot? Gray will be starting Thursday night in OKC and has pitched six scoreless innings since his return from his injury. Or will they just employ a wait-and-see approach?

The Dodgers will need a starting rotation to be at full strength down the stretch because the NL West is seemingly going to go down to the wire. The San Diego Padres have also been hit with a rash of injuries lately and may not end up factoring in the divisional race. But they will most likely end up in the Wild Card race.

If the season ended today, the San Francisco Giants would be in first place, and the Dodgers and the Padres would have a one game playoff to decide who would play the Giants as the first place seed. While one could easily see Buehler being the Wild Card starter and shoving the team to a win, one always wants to be the team in the position of power and having home field advantage, hence the important of a divisional crown.

The next few weeks will be key in how the rest of the Dodgers season plays out. It should be interesting to say the least.

15 thoughts on “The Two Most Important Issues for Dodgers in Second Half of Season

  1. Although the Padres are 6 games out right now, I am definitely not counting them out for the divisional title. I still consider them a stronger team than the Giants and we know that Preller will probably do something spectacular by the end of the month.

    Both Gray and Pepiot are starting tonight (Gray for OKC and Pepiot for Tulsa) which lines them up perfectly for the Dodger 5th starter spot if that needs to happen. My feeling is that Andrew is going to avoid that scenario if he can and would prefer that the 5th spot be taken by Price or by another veteran guy he picks up in the next 2 weeks. He might bring up Gray or Pepiot in an emergency (who says the other 4 starters can go through September without injury?) or as long men in the bullpen, but I don’t think he wants to count on either of them for half a season of starts this year if he can avoid it.

    1. I think 6 games is a lot to make up, especially since at the moment their starting rotation is depleted and both the Dodgers and San Fran are really good.

      I think if we could have four starters and Gonsolin/Price to piggy back the 5th spot we might be ok. Of course I’d love 5 full starters. Maybe Gonsolin will put it together and be good (and healthy) down the stretch

      1. Whoever they get in this fabulous upcoming trade! 😃 (I was referring to august and after / I realize I didn’t make that clear)

      2. Got it! I think we’re thinking along the same lines here.
        If the Nats decide to move Scherzer they’ll be in a very sweet spot with LA, SD and probably SF plus maybe the Yanks all in the bidding. That will certainly drive up the price.
        Along with his presence on the mound, his persona in the clubhouse would do this team a lot of good. We have some great guys on our team but they’re mostly very laid back. Max would light a fire under them.

  2. Dodgers sent Reks back to OKC, which means there will be some sort of roster move tomorrow. They also signed Bobby Wahl to a minor league deal after DFAing then releasing him the same day.

  3. I understand people like to dream big. But does anyone think the Dodgers are willing to trade and sign Scherzer? He has stated he will not ok a trade without an extension. How can the Dodgers extend someone big $ while they are still liable for Bauer’s 100 Million. Plus he would cost a big Blue Chip so I think Scherzer is fantasy…
    Are 6 games too many with almost 1/2 a season left? It more depends on how many teams are above you. The Padres have beat the Dodgers lately so this will be interesting.
    Dodgers really need Seager back very thankful for Turner, Muncy, and Taylor.
    I think Bellinger has a problem and is stoned out of his mind! Do they test them for weed?

    1. Yes they do, and Cody just looked whacked out normally. Joc Pederson traded to the Braves for a minor league first baseman. House cleaning begins in Chicago.

  4. Gray won. Pepiot didnt. Gray went 4.2, Pepiot 3. Both continue to strike out batters, but will they help down the stretch? Gray might. Not Pepiot.

    If the Dodgers want Scherzer they will get him. I think it’s a good idea. Though this offense can at times be overwhelming, the Dodgers do it with pitching. Losing May and Bauer is huge and I believe Friedman will do something to beef up the rotation.

    1. If Preller wants Scherzer and Andrew wants Scherzer the Padres will get him because Andrew has his limits in terms of what he will do to get a player and Preller does not. Especially if the player he wants is the same as the player the Dodgers want most.

      If anyone gets Max I think it will be at the last minute because the Nats may take that long to make up their minds about buying/selling and because the longer they wait, the more teams get desperate and push up the price. If the Yankees get hot, they might be right in there with the others. Giants, Red Sox, Astros and White Sox are others who might decide to get involved. It’s going to be a circus.

      1. Good question. I would guess that if they think it will bring them into the playoffs for the next 2-3 years, the answer is yes.

      2. Does Preller also still have a deep farm system? I would think that the Dodgers have more. And maybe the Dodgers would be more likely to sign him to a deal if three know Bauer is done and Kershaw’s contract is done, although I think they’ll re-sign him to a more friendly contract

      3. The last ratings I saw a few days ago (before the draft) had the Dodgers, Padres and Giants pretty much bunched together. SF – 9, LA – 11, SD – 13. I believe that was from Fangraphs.

        Both the Dodgers and Pads have starters coming back next year so that might influence their decision about extending Scherzer, but hey, it’s Max. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Preller dump Snell’s contract on someone this winter. He’s really been a disappointment in SD but I’m sure someone would be happy to have him.

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