Trade Deadline Consequences: No Rotation Upgrade?
By Jeremy Dorn
It was a crazy week of trade deadline madness in Los Angeles. Our Dodgers added two bats and two bullpen arms, while waving goodbye to young hurlers like Josh Lindblom and Nathan Eovaldi. And while everyone is celebrating the coup of scoring Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez for our formerly punch-less offense, let us stop and take a moment of silence…
…for the rotation, which will now slowly bleed and wither and die. Yes, the Dodgers needed a big bat. Check! Yes, the Dodgers needed a left-handed bullpen arm. Thank you, Randy Choate. But involved in that trifecta of priorities was getting starting pitching depth behind Clayton Kershaw. Whoops.
Before you call me names, let me acknowledge the dominance through 105 games that the rotation has displayed. It’s been very, very good. The third best team ERA in the National League, tied for 2nd most quality starts, and tied for 2nd best batting average against.
That being said, we used to have the second best team ERA in the National League. My point is, opposing offenses are starting to figure some of our pitchers out.
Clayton Kershaw has upped his game, but Chris Capuano has had a string of sub-par starts. Aaron Harang, though brought in to be a 5th starter, has an ERA nearing 4.00, and Chad Billinglsey is the most inconsistent pitcher in baseball.
And the Dodgers will probably survive with that rotation, especially with a new-look offense. Chances are, the Dodgers will be a playoff contender down the stretch.
But, assume that we make the playoffs and advance to a five-game division series. Aside from the two games that Kershaw could start, do you have any real faith that another of our starters can be a lock down, postseason ace? I didn’t think so.
Trying to get another starter through the August trade process (that player clears waivers and the teams then make a trade) isn’t going to work. Nobody of quality will be available in that fashion of acquisition. At least nobody better than what we already have.
So the best bet the Dodgers have of restoring a little starting pitching fire into the rotation, is banking on guys like Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa to come back from injury and be incredibly good. Or at the very least, that prospects like Stephen Fife, John Ely, and anyone else who gets a call-up turn into the next Michael Fiers.
I loved the trades the Dodgers made at the deadline. All of them addressed a specific need of this team, and we’re a lot better off because of them. But a glaring omission, that may end up hurting us a LOT come October, is not adding a quality arm.
Ryan Dempster was there for the taking. We had calls in about Matt Garza and James Shields. There were options available, but none apparently to our liking.
So the worst move the Dodgers may have made over the trade deadline was the move they didn’t make at all. Now Kershaw is on his own. It’s him, the fans and a lot of hoping and praying against the world.