The Dodgers coming out of the trade deadline with a warmup series against the Triple-A Pacific Coast League Oakland A's might've temporarily obscured the truth, but the team's ERA in July told the whole story quite clearly.
LA's 2023 squad is a team of ballers. They heard the front office's call to hold back on payroll this offseason and responded by being relentless on offense, with contributions from rookies to bargain-basement veterans known mainly for their leadership. Suffice to say this team earned a ringing endorsement at the trade deadline.
What they didn't deserve was Eduardo Rodríguez asking for another year at $20 million, followed by a loud fizzling until the deadline clock struck. It would be Lance Lynn. That would have to be enough.
Andrew Friedman and Co. believe they've spotted something in Lynn to help him through the second half, and it's not like they're making the wild claim that they're about to turn a non-entity into an All-Star. Lynn was Team USA's stud this spring at the World Baseball Classic, and was one of the game's premier pitchers from 2019-2021 with the Rangers and White Sox. Still ... a 6.32 ERA at the age of 36 is a 6.32 ERA at the age of 36.
Whither Clayton Kershaw? Because, as Bill Plaschke pointed out, it's going to take more than just a solid Lynn start against the A's to turn around this rotation's ERA, which sat at an insane 6.18 in July. That's the worst month in Los Angeles Dodgers history.
MLB Standings: Dodgers' Rotation ERA Needs Dose of Clayton Kershaw ASAP
What about Johnny Wholestaff? According to the team ERA rankings for the month of July, the Dodgers ranked 21st with a 4.67 mark.
Positive spin zone? That's just one spot below the Houston Astros and one slot ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The New York Yankees ranked 23rd.
Negative spin zone? It's obviously bad to be in the bottom-third of the league in anything, as a contender, and that mark placed the Dodgers in fourth in the NL West for the month:
1. San Diego Padres (first!)
2. San Francisco Giants (ninth)
3. Colorado Rockies (12th?!?)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (21st)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (28th)
If you know the 2023 Dodgers, you know that any month where the bullpen ERA made the staff's overall ERA look better probably isn't a fantastic month.
This team remains a top-tier group in the NL, but thanks to a largely empty deadline, their second half/playoff chances are relying on Lance Lynn's numbers returning to his career norms, a Clayton Kershaw comeback, and the offense refusing to take a break. Hopefully, Friedman's one-man deadline vision comes to fruition. Otherwise, he deserves any scorn he receives.