The 2022 summer trade deadline was a bit strange for the Dodgers this year, as they mostly stayed pat and decided to hang onto their plentiful stock of prospects in the minors, seemingly content with their chances at another deep postseason run in October.
Not many fans were concerned about starting pitching heading into the deadline. At the time, there seemed to be plenty of options for both the rotation and the bullpen, as there were a handful of key players approaching their prospective returns from the injured list.
However, the team was dealt a huge blow on Thursday when veteran Clayton Kershaw exited the game against the Rockies with an apparent back problem. Kershaw was eventually placed on the injured list on Friday when the club activated utility man Chris Taylor.
While a late-season Los Angeles rotation without Kershaw and Walker Buehler may not seem ideal, the good news is that skipper Dave Roberts believes that Kershaw’s injury may not be as serious as it appears, gauging his time on the injured list in the four-week range.
“I think the last one put him down for four to six weeks,” Roberts told reporters on Friday. “I think we’re on the shorter end of that, but obviously the body has got to heal. There’s a little bit of trauma, which caused the uneasiness.”
Although these types of injuries are tough to pinpoint, if we use a five-week ballpark, it could conceivably give Kershaw enough time to build himself back up for a strong playoff run.
There’s still not much news on Buehler, but from what we can tell, the team isn’t ruling out a late-September return. The weird thing is that there’s been some chatter about Buehler throwing in relief since there might not be enough time to stretch him out sufficiently as a starter.
The last time the 28-year-old righty threw in relief was 2018.
Regardless, that leaves Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney as the big guns in the rotation right now. With Mitch White having been traded away at the deadline, there’s early speculation the team may recall Ryan Pepiot to temporarily fill Kershaw’s rotation spot.
One possible upgrade could be adding Dustin May to the starting rotation mix. The 24-year-old righty could probably come back as either as a starter or a reliever. In his latest rehab appearance for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, he threw four full innings against Salt Lake, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with an impressive six punchouts over 62 pitches.
The four innings was one inning more than the three he threw against Sugar Land on July 28, suggesting the team is trying to build him up as a starter, just in case there’s a need.
As it stands, the Dodgers have the best record in the bigs and the best overall team ERA at 2.92. As a matter of fact, the Dodgers and the Astros are the only two major league clubs with team ERAs under 3.00.
Even though the pitching is getting the job done, the team may need to lean on the offense as the postseason approaches. The Dodgers are second to the Yankees in run production, but it still feels like the Los Angeles offense has yet to hit full stride, despite the team’s incredible success.