The Los Angeles Dodgers, after opening the 2021 season with the most ballyhooed rotation in modern history, are approaching the trade deadline three months later not just seeking rotation insurance, but desperate for it.
How did we get here?
The Dodgers obviously planned for a few long-term starting pitcher issues (that’s why Tony Gonsolin languished in the bullpen!), but nobody plans for this rash of absences, which span from the typical (Dustin May’s highly unfortunate Tommy John) to the unforeseen, which should keep Trevor Bauer off the field a long time.
And then there’s Clayton Kershaw, the team’s stalwart, who became the latest casualty on Wednesday afternoon.
Kershaw felt pain in his elbow playing catch several days ago, and was placed on the IL this week with “elbow inflammation,” a catch-all that doesn’t tell us much about his potential return date.
Without the greatest lefty in MLB history, without May, with a reduced Gonsolin, without a David Price who can start, and without…well, that whole $35 million waste…the Dodgers still have options here.
Honorable mentions include a promotion of Josiah Gray, which could be coming sooner than any of us anticipated when the year began (again, the rotation was arguably this team’s greatest strength!). The team is taking it slow with their current highest-ranked pitching prospect, though, throwing him two innings in a comeback appearance on July 4 (he’s pitched just 7.0 innings this season).
We’ll also toss in a few names who seem extremely unlikely to join the Dodgers: adios to the Max Scherzer rumors, as the Nationals fancy themselves NL East contenders (and rightly so!), and goodbye to German Marquez, who’ll cost a billion and plays within the division.
When the Dodgers call around for bullpen help, we’d advise them to also drop the names of these starters and see where it gets them.
The Dodgers should consider these 3 starters at the Trade Deadline.
3. Kyle Gibson
Kyle Gibson, the steadiest arm on the market, will be a massive name at this year’s trade deadline, finally putting his boring two-seamers together for a breakout campaign.
Gibson’s posted excellent 190-inning seasons before (3.84 mark in 2015, 3.62 in 2018), and we all knew he could rip off an efficient sequence every so often, but we’ve never seen him like this before. At age 33, the righty’s allowed only 78 hits in 102.0 innings pitched, and has a sterling FIP of 3.47 to match his 6-1, 2.29 mark in more traditional counting stats.
If the Dodgers can get Gibson without giving up a massive haul, they’d be wise to pursue the ground ball machine upgrade. He’s not volatile whatsoever, which will be a boon to a team that’s hit more bumps than expected in 2021 (hey, can he beat the Marlins?).
We’ve targeted the Texas Rangers for quite a while, eyeing everyone from Joey Gallo to former AL saves leader Ian Kennedy. Kennedy would still be a wonderful fit in LA, and perhaps his inclusion will be the way the Dodgers justify an overpay? Bottom line, Los Angeles can use Gibson in a number of ways, and if everything breaks right in the postseason, he could be a multi-inning Alex Wood-style weapon in the ‘pen as the rotation returns to normalcy.
Don’t sell the farm, but maybe add Kennedy while giving away a sweeter package.