For as much as the summer trade deadline hyped up all those close to the Dodgers, the injury setbacks and bullpen use are still lingering concerns as the final third of the season approaches.
In Friday’s opener against the Diamondbacks, starter Tony Gonsolin was pulled with two outs in the second inning after surrendering two earned runs on a hit and a whopping five walks on 55 pitches.
The Dodgers lost the game in extras, but the worst part about the defeat was that skipper Dave Roberts used nine pitchers in the affair. What’s even worse is Saturday’s contest will be another bullpen game with Mitch White taking the ball as the opener.
However, there may be a bit of good news in the coming days, as the newly acquired Max Scherzer will tentatively make his first start in Dodger Blue against the Astros on August 4, while Clayton Kershaw should be activated from the injured list on August 7.
Kershaw threw three innings in a simulated game while he was with the team early this week in San Francisco and came out of the affair feeling fine. On Sunday, he’ll throw another session either at Chase Field or Camelback Ranch as the final part of his rehab.
Of course, it’s still more than a week away, but having both Scherzer and a healthy Kershaw in the starting five should play huge, especially with regards to eating innings. It should also be interesting to see what happens with Gonsolin and David Price with the final rotation spot. Either way, if all are healthy, the first four will consist of Kershaw, Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.
After being bothered by a sore hip for most of the season, the Dodgers finally took the plunge and placed right fielder Mookie Betts on the injured list on July 25. The move was retroactive to July 22, so the soonest Betts can return is on Sunday in the finale against the D-backs. As of this writing, everything appears to be on schedule.
No question the top of the Dodgers lineup will change fluidly over the next several days. Trea Turner is currently on the COVID list, so it’s still unknown when he’ll be active. Still, with a healthy Betts in the leadoff spot, it will no doubt boost a Los Angeles squad that has won just four contests over its last 12 games.
While there is not yet a firm return date for righty reliever Corey Knebel, the idea that he’s been throwing great at Triple-A Oklahoma City suggests that his return to the majors might indeed be a reality.
In two rehab starts so far at OKC, he has allowed just one hit and no walks while striking out four batters. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 MPH. There’s still a long way to go but adding Knebel to the backend of the bullpen will certainly bolster a unit that has been questionable as of late.
After going 2-for-5 and playing all 10 innings at shortstop on Friday, the plan is to give Corey Seager a day off on Saturday before inserting him back into Sunday’s lineup.
“He’ll be down tomorrow, you know, after playing a four hour-plus game,” Roberts said on Friday. “He’ll be back in there on Sunday, but I thought he looked fantastic. It was good to have him back.”
(Update: Not long before Saturday’s first pitch, the Dodgers placed Gonsolin on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation.)