Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
The Dodger starting rotation is in a mess going into the All-Star break, and it will not improve in the second half unless Dodger President Andrew Friedman obtains at least a starter before the trading deadline.
Wednesday, the Dodgers put their longtime ace Clayton Kershaw on the ten-day IL with left forearm inflammation. While the Dodgers think Kershaw’s injury is minor, any time a pitcher has a problem with his forearm, it is scary. Usually, it means the possibility of Tommy John surgery, and Kershaw has pitched for the Dodgers for the last fourteen years. He has never had any problems with his forearm and elbow.
During the 2021 season, Kershaw has started eighteen games and has a 3.39 ERA. He is on the pace to pitch more innings this season than he has since 2014. Coming off the abbreviated 2020 season, Kershaw like other Major-League pitchers was prone to injuries. Even though the Dodgers have attempted to give their starters an extra day of rest whenever they could.
The uncertainty surrounding Trevor Bauer does not help the Dodgers’ pitching situation. Wednesday, the team pulled all the Bauer merchandise and cancelled his bobble head night. People close to both the criminal and MLB investigation think Bauer will not pitch in the 2021 season, and his possible suspension might last longer than this season. Personally, I do not want to see Trevor Bauer in a Dodger uniform again.
Both Walker Buehler and Julio Urías have pitched well in 2021 and are on a pace to set career highs for innings. Both have performed brilliantly. In 17 starts, Buehler has a 2.49 ERA, and many baseball-knowledgeable people think he was snubbed when he was not chosen for the All-Star Game. Buehler had a Tommy John surgery in the past; therefore, the Dodgers should not push him too much.
Urías, 24, is tied for first in wins, so many baseball-knowledgeable people thought he should have been named to the National League All-Star team. Being snubbed might be a blessing for him and the Dodgers. Urías had a shoulder reconstruction surgery in 2016. Since then, the Dodgers have treated him with kid gloves. Before Bauer’s legal problems and Kershaw’s injury, the Dodgers might have considered putting Urías in the bullpen after the All-Star break, but they do not have a choice.
At the beginning of the 2021 season, the Dodgers wanted to use Tony Gonsolin as a long reliever, but he developed shoulder inflammation before he could be used as a reliever. Upon his return to the Dodger active roster, Gonsolin has been a struggling starter. His control has been a problem.
Before Wednesday’s 9-to-6 loss to the Miami Marlins, the Dodgers have experienced great success in their bullpen game. However, on the current road trip, the Dodgers have been forced to overuse their good bullpen. Their exhausted relievers are not effective, and the Dodgers will have another bullpen game on Friday when they put Kershaw on the IL. They cannot promote any more pitchers from the Minor Leagues since they do not have any pitchers ready to perform in the Major Leagues.
Since every contending team wants to strengthen its starting rotation, Friedman will have supreme difficulty finding good starters. The Dodgers have been in the playoffs; therefore, the organization does not have any top prospects to give other organizations for their good Major-League starters.
Other than acquiring starters, the Dodgers need to obtain a right-handed hitter and to strengthen their bullpen. Throughout the 2021 season, left-handed pitching has dominated the Dodgers, and this will be a gigantic problem during the postseason.
Since the Dodger organization does not have many Minor Leaguers to trade, they must trade some of their Major Leaguers who are not performing.
Gavin Lux has not performed well either offensively or defensively. Either at second base or shortstop, he has committed many costly errors, and offensively, he has a batting average of .234 and OPS of .666, well below league average.
While Matt Beaty has been a good left-handed pinch hitter, he does not have a fielding position. He should benefit from a change scenery.
While the Dodgers have won over fifty games on the strength of their starting rotation, they need more pitching if they want to repeat as the National League Western Division champions. As former Dodger GM Ned Colletti always has said, no team can have too much pitching, and this season