In the wake of the devastating news for the Los Angeles Dodgers that ace Clayton Kershaw is heading to the 15 day DL, the team is set to start looking for rotation help from outside of the organization. In a season where the team has consistently looked towards the minor league to bolster the back end of their rotation, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Andy McCullough from the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that the team will be begin looking for outside help.
The team has not set a starter for Friday. They are actively searching for arms outside the organization.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 30, 2016
This comes after the news that despite being shelled by the Milwaukee Brewers in his first major league start, Brock Stewart will get another chance.
Brock Stewart will get another start.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 30, 2016
In addition to this, while his performances have gotten better and better, this may also cause teenager Julio Urias to receive more starts at the big league level. In the immediate future this may be a good thing as Urias appears to be able to help the rotation right now. But, pushing the youngster would contradict the path of caution that the franchise has taken with him up to this point in his career.
So with Kershaw going down, he joins other starters Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood, and Frankie Montas on the DL. While the front office has been largely hesitant to go out and make a big move to help the rotation, this may force their hand. Since a starting five of Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias, Brock Stewart, and a mystery fifth man doesn’t exactly strike fear into opponents hearts, where does the team turn to now?
Low end options:
- Andrew Cashner/Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres: If the Dodgers choose to take the route of looking to buy low on players once heralded then they may look towards their NL West counterparts in San Diego. While Cashner is only 3-5 and has a 4.75 ERA, he has possesses an above average fastball and could be an innings eater. Ross is still on the DL after suffering a shoulder injury earlier in the season but signing injured pitches has not been a deterrent for the front office before. Ross offers much more potential than Cashner so perhaps the Dodgers will try and swoop in while Ross’s value is at an all time low.
- Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins: Another pitcher who is past his prime and doesn’t have stellar numbers (2-7, 4.64 ERA) but has performed well in the past and would probably be made available for cheap. A signing like this could mirror one like Ricky Nolasco from a few seasons ago.
Middle of the road:
- Rich Hill, Oakland Athletics: Hill has never really achieved anything more than journeyman status throughout his career but this season for the Oakland Athletics, he has pitched very well. He has stolen some of the spotlight from ace and potential trade target Sonny Gray (more on this later). Hill has a 8-3 record with a 2.25 ERA so he would slot in nicely into the Dodgers rotation, but there may be some concerns about whether or not he can keep up this performance over the course of a whole season at age 36. Ted Lilly was another pitcher who relied on command and was up there in age but had moderate success with the Dodgers so the blueprint is there.
- Matt Moore/Jake Odorizzi/Erasmo Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays: If Andrew Freidman wants to go back to his old stomping grounds and raid the Tampa Bay Rays for more talent, their rotation looks ripe for the picking. Odorizzi and Moore’s name have been flying around for the past couple of trade deadlines and it makes sense why, as both are relatively young players with team friendly contracts who have shown the potential to be very solid members of any rotation. As far as Ramirez goes, the team has already been putting out feelers for his services.
Front of the rotation:
- Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves: Teheran could walk onto the roster and immediately become the second most popular Julio on the team. Teheran has long been primed for a breakout kind of season where he puts together dominant performances wire to wire, and while that hasn’t quite happened yet, the signs are no doubt there. His record of 3-7 is much more a reflection of his Atlanta Braves being one of the worst teams in the league rather than an indication of poor pitching on his part. Despite the poor win-loss record, he has a 2.46 ERA, a .887 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts over his 16 starts. Getting Teheran from the Braves probably wouldn’t be cheap, but with the team firmly in rebuilding mode and the Dodgers having a wealth of minor league talent, something could possibly be worked out.
- Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics: Gray was supposed to be the A’s belle of the ball but up to this point in the season, he has been largely disappointing. He is only 3-6 and has a ghastly 5.03 ERA, which is a far cry from his 14-7 record and 2.73 ERA of last season. All throughout the winter meetings, Gray’s name was brought up as a potential trade chip for the A’s and they were primed to get a kings ransom for him. However, no deal was struck and the way he has played this season, his value has no doubt decreased. Not to say that it would be a cheap acquisition for the Dodgers, but the price is looking like it will be much less than steep than a few months ago.
- Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox: Another player who is out vastly outperforming his team and therefore may be on the trading block is Chris Sale. Sale is a four time all-star and is perennially near the top of the ballot for the AL Cy Young award. He is already 13-2, with a 2.79 ERA, and WHIP that is less than 1. If the Dodgers could swing a trade for The Condor, if and when Kershaw comes back, they would have a deadly pair of aces that could challenge the dominance of Kersh and Greinke at their most potent.
- Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins: What can you say about Jose Fernandez? He is only 24, making a little under $3 million dollars, and has career numbers of 32-12, 2.37 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 474 strikeouts in less than four full seasons. Trading for Fernandez would be risky if for no other reason than he is eligible to be a free agent after next season and it would take probably the Dodgers entire triple-a team to acquire him from the Marlins. BUT, he is the most dynamic young pitcher in the league and could soon be challenging Kershaw for his undisputed title of “Best Pitcher. Period.” It appears unlikely that the Marlins would chose to move their ace as they are in the thick of the playoff hunt, but, it’s fun to dream.
The Dodgers rotation is already comprised of boom or bust and injury prone players and while it wouldn’t be fair to say that the experiment has failed, it may be time to explore other options. The front office has stressed that they are building a team that can contend not only this year, but for many many years to come. This is a very noble and respectable way of going about things, but, something needs to change. It may take a lot to get one of the higher end options, but it would a go long way in showing the fans that the present is just as important as the future.
The weeks without Kershaw will be tricky to navigate and without a clear ace, the path is even less clear. Going out and getting a major player would send a message to the rest of the league that the Dodgers aren’t planning on rolling over and submitting. The team is only 6 back of the Giants, and first in the wild card race, we cant afford a big dip in form and going and signing another ace would make sure that doesn’t happen.