Dodgers' rotation remains a work in progress

Dodgers' rotation remains a work in progress
Dodgers pitcher Carlos Frias talks to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt during the first inning of a game Sunday against the Padres. Frias gave up 10 runs in four innings in the Dodgers' 11-3 loss. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Ah, the rotation. It's always about the rotation. It was before camp started, after Hyun-Jin Ryu could not answer the bell to start the season, and now even more so with Brandon McCarthy and Ryu lost for the year.

The Dodgers initially used a minor-league shuffle to fill rotation holes, though currently have settled on Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger.

And how long does that last?

Both had pitched extremely well -- much better than any one dared hope -- until Frias did his implosion thing Sunday. And that was eight-runs-in-two-innings ugly.


Which, fairly or not, underlines how tenuous is the hold of Frias, and ultimately Bolsinger, on a rotation spot. Not that Sunday's miserable outing means the end of Frias as a starter.

"We can't make decisions based on one outing," said Manager Don Mattingly. "That can happen to anybody."

True enough, but a couple more poor starts and Frias could earn a return trip to triple-A and the Dodgers might make a call for Joe Wieland or Zach Lee. Still, all this feels fairly temporary. At some point you expect the Dodgers to make a move and trade for a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Not an easy thing to do now, particularly when other teams are keenly aware of your need. But whether it’s a Scott Kazmir or Matt Garza, or the ante is upped to a Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels, somebody figures to be coming at some point. They are trying to win a championship.

The Dodgers would prefer any move they make be later; the longer the season goes the more likely teams are to determine they're out of the race and make players available. So it's of extra importance they ride Frias and Bolsinger as long as they can.

Frias is expected to take his next turn, the Dodgers dusting off every possible cliché to write off Sunday's disaster.

"That's part of the game," Frias said. "That happens to anyone. I'm just going to get ready for my next one."

"That's the way it goes sometimes," said rookie catcher Austin Barnes. "That's baseball."

"Just a bad day," said Mattingly.

The Dodgers cannot afford too many of those. Bolsinger has been an absolute marvel, though the Dodgers have to remain mindful they are trying to make do with a pair of starters unproven at the major-league level.

It's still more than two months to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and that's a long time to go with fingers crossed. It's about the rotation, stupid. And it's as fluid as ever.

Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @SteveDilbeck