The Los Angeles Dodgers have a lot to figure out as the trade deadline approaches in less than a month. Once upon a time, it felt as if the bullpen would need an entire overhaul, but the starting rotation has continued to slip in concerning fashion.
Andrew Friedman undoubtedly needs to help out the team's relief corps, but that unit has rebounded fairly impressively over the last few weeks while the rotation has dealt with injuries and lackluster performances.
Many thought Julio Urías' return would bring renewed hope, but the left-hander, who had been out for a month and a half, got dinked and dunked against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, in what ended up being a 6-4 loss. The Dodgers dropped the series to one of the worst teams in MLB after Tony Gonsolin's stinker on Sunday (we'll get to that a bit later).
Urías lasted just three innings. He surrendered five runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out only two. One could probably chalk this one up to bad luck and shaky defense, but it's still not encouraging his pitch count was at 66 after just three frames.
He didn't look particularly sharp. It's understandable that his first start since returning from a long layoff wasn't a gem, but wasn't this supposed to be a bit of a tune-up against the league's second-worst offense?
Dodgers News: Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin problematic for LA
Urías will get one more start before the All-Star break in the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates later in the week. All fans can do is hope he finds a semblance of consistency before another layoff.
As for Monday ... is Clayton Kershaw starting? Ever since exiting last week's game against the Rockies after six innings despite facing the minimum (he told manager Dave Roberts he was "done), there have been injury concerns surrounding the team's best pitcher in 2023.
Kershaw's renaissance campaign that's featured a clean bill of health has taken a turn for the worse. Roberts told reporters after Sunday's game that Kershaw will either be starting Monday against the Pirates or be headed to the injured list -- two options that are far too night and day to feel comfortable with if you're watching this team closely.
Fans finally learned Kershaw was dealing with shoulder inflammation, which was a bit of a relief given the forearm issues he suffered from last year as well as the repeated back ailments that have limited him for a long time now.
Roberts telling reporters that Kershaw's most recent bullpen session "was just OK" also doesn't instill any confidence. It feels like an IL stint and some decent rest before the second half of the year is the best move here.
And finally, there's Tony Gonsolin, who is officially turning into a liability. The team has lost four out of his last five outings and the right-hander has given up 15 earned runs in his last 14.1 innings of work. The Royals tagged him for four earned runs on six hits and a walk in just 3.2 innings during Sunday's 9-1 loss.
Gonsolin has proven time and time again that, despite his fairly impressive surface stats, that he cannot be relied upon as someone who can pitch deep into games or can take the ball for high-leverage contests. This now marks the third straight season he's struggled with his health, and the fact he's gotten worse since the year has progressed is a troubling sign for a team that has far more pitching problems than it can afford. It's probably not too crazy to question his future in LA, either.
The next couple of weeks will reveal Friedman's deadline plans. And if this is any preview, he'll have to start planning for 2024 and beyond to help this rotation get to where it needs to be.