Luis Castillo is off the board. Frankie Montas went across the country to New York. Carlos Rodón can’t be targeted because the San Francisco Giants almost assuredly won’t trade him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So what’s Andrew Friedman’s contingency plan to bolster the starting rotation? Is he going to bank on Walker Buehler returning to ace-like form following elbow surgery? Is Dustin May going to be trusted to log meaningful starts down the stretch and in October?
Or is there someone else potentially on the market that we’ve yet to hear of … or someone that Friedman convinced another team to make available in talks?
It seems one of those two scenarios could be true because the Dodgers are reportedly targeting Miami Marlins starter Pablo Lopez ahead of the 6 p.m. Aug. 2 deadline. We’ve speculated on this before, but it appears it might slowly become a reality.
Lopez, 26, has likely become appealing for the Marlins to trade due to the presence of ace Sandy Alcantara, among other young pieces. Miami can get a considerable return for someone under control through 2024.
The Dodgers are reportedly eyeing Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez in trade talks
Ever since 2020, Lopez has emerged as a quality arm following the first (rough) 31 starts of his career in 2018 and 2019. This year, the right-hander owns a 3.41 ERA, 3.60 FIP and 1.12 WHIP with 119 strikeouts in 21 starts (118.2 innings). He gets batters to chase (85th percentile) and limits hard contact (73rd percentile).
Now, would Lopez be a frontline starter capable of handling business in a high-leverage postseason start? Probably not, at least in the short term. He’s at a career high in innings pitched at the moment and has just one postseason start under his belt dating back to the pandemic 2020 season when the Marlins snuck in as an NL Wild Card team.
But the Dodgers don’t necessarily need that from every starting pitching candidate they might be targeting in a trade. Don’t forget, this team needs rotation depth right now as well as after this season when Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney and Clayton Kershaw hit free agency.
Maybe more than one of those guys return for 2023, but then you have to look ahead to Julio Urías’ free agency after 2023. Also, are the Dodgers going to rely on Heaney, Gonsolin, or even Anderson (despite how good he’s been) to make postseason starts when the time comes? Wouldn’t you rather have Lopez as your No. 4 in a seven-game playoff series behind Kersh, Buehler and Urías?
Perhaps that’s a debate for another time, but the Dodgers going after a controllable starting pitcher only helps them for 2022 and beyond. A good problem to have, and more flexibility for manager Dave Roberts to deploy arms down the stretch and in October.