The Dodgers lead the National League with a 3.22 ERA from the starting rotation, second only to the A's 3.18 for tops in baseball. Yet it's the their back end of the rotation that is causing Ned Colletti to ponder his next move.
Josh Beckett wasn't very good in his return from the DL on Tuesday, getting hit around by the Pirates. Despite that, Don Mattingly announced that Beckett will still be kept in the rotation for now, taking Beckett's word for it that he really is OK.
Dan Haren is pitching like he's hurt, as he suffered yet another horrific outing on Wednesday. He gave up four runs in the first to the Pirates as the Dodgers got smacked around 6-1. If Haren was looking to instill some confidence in Mattingly, he certainly did not, as Mattingly refused to say after the game if he'd even make his next start.
Haren entered July with a 3.57 ERA and an 8-4 record. Well, he's now at 8-8, and here's how his ERA has shot up by the game: 4.06, 4.23, 4.30, and 4.49. Basically, he's not coming anywhere close to hitting his spots, and hitters are just sitting back and waiting for some fat pitches over the middle. Haren, the great guy that he is, has more than obliged.
Today (Thursday) is an off day, then the Dodgers go to San Francisco for three. After another off day the following Monday, they'll then play 20 consecutive days against the Braves, Cubs, Angels, Brewers, Braves again, and Brewers again. Take away the Cubs, and there's not a break in that stretch. They'll have to bring their "A" game just to survive.
One week from today is the official trade deadline, and you can bet Colletti is looking at his options. The big dog remains David Price, but it will literally take a huge price just to get him. Last year they brought in Ricky Nolasco and Edinson Volquez when they faced similar issues on the back end of the rotation, so a lesser-known player like those two could be the target.
You know what you're going to get from Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and that's a whole lot of innings with zero scoring. At this point, what can they expect from a banged up Beckett and ineffective Haren? That's the scary part.
I believe that Beckett's health will be the key in all of this. His recent history is loaded with one injury after another, but when he's been healthy, he's been really good. If he can get back into a groove and avoid anymore DL stints, then the rotation is legit four-deep in arms. If not, then it accelerates the team's need for another starter.
Haren's days of starting, regardless of what Beckett does, appear to be numbered, and rightfully so. He's just been awful, plain and simple. There's no doubt he'll be the odd man out if another starter is brought in.