The Los Angeles Dodgers have been without their top starting pitcher for the last month, and one of their best position players from just two years ago is likely headed for the minor leagues. But even with all their issues, L.A. has maintained their playoff spot, playing so well of late that they were one of the biggest buyers at the 2016 MLB trade deadline.
A herniated disc landed Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list last month, and the Dodgers have responded with the National League’s best record during that time at 18-10. A day after the deadline, L.A. trails the San Francisco Giants by two games in the NL West, and they are 2.5 games ahead of the Miami Marlins, who own the second NL wild-card spot.
Before he got hurt, Kershaw was the runaway favorite to win the NL Cy Young award. In 121 innings, he’s 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP and 145 strikeouts. The Dodgers’ offense has stepped up in Kershaw’s absence, but they likely won’t be a legitimate World Series contender if their ace can’t get back on the mound.
Kershaw has said he intends to make it back this season, but there’s no timetable for his return. The three-time Cy Young winner hasn’t thrown off a mound since he tossed a 60-pitch simulated game on July 16.
"I think it is on the horizon, but I just don't know how close," Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said when asked when Kershaw might begin throwing again. "Obviously the sooner the better, but with Clayton, we don't have to worry about the effort and the focus. When it happens, we'll find out, but there is no timeline for us."
The Dodgers bolstered their rotation as they look to survive Kershaw’s absence a little longer. L.A. acquired starting pitcher Rich Hill, sending three pitching prospects—Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas—to the Oakland Athletics in the deal. At 36 years old, Hill is having the best season of his career with a 9-3 record and a 2.26 ERA.
L.A. has used 12 different starting pitchers this season, giving them the fourth-best ERA of any rotation in the NL.
Los Angeles also acquired Josh Reddick in the trade with Oakland. The move will allow the Dodgers to send Yasiel Puig down to the minors. Puig did not travel with the Dodgers to Colorado for their upcoming three-game series with the Rockies.
Since bursting onto the scene with a .925 OPS as a rookie in 2013, Puig’s production has declined each season. He was one of the NL’s best outfielders in 2014 when he posted a .862 OPS, but he’s down to a .706 OPS with seven home runs in 2016.
The Dodgers were unable to deal Puig, and they added Reddick in hopes of improving one of MLB’s worst outfields. Reddick is hitting .296 with a .817 OPS on the season. Starting outfielders Puig, Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson have combined for a .243 batting average.
Los Angeles reportedly made a play for Jay Bruce, who was traded to the New York Mets, as well as pitcher Chris Sale, who stayed with the Chicago White Sox. But the Dodgers wouldn't part with prized prospect Julio Urias, and also kept promising minor-league pitcher Jose De Leon.
Dodgers Added Dodgers Traded
Jessie Chavez, P Mike Bolsinger, P
Rich Hill, P Jharel Cotton, P
Josh Reddick, OF Grant Holmes, P
Josh Fields, P Frankie Montas, P
Yordan Alvarez, 1B