Dan Haren was unable to turn his season around Friday night in that ugly 8-2 loss to the Cubs, and how much longer can the Dodgers continue to use him as their fifth starter?
It isn’t like they have abundance of good options. The nonwaiver trading deadline has passed. No one’s play in the minors is demanding a spot in the rotation. And Haren’s most likely in-house replacement, Paul Maholm, left the postgame clubhouse on crutches and headed for an MRI on his right knee.
Manager Don Mattingly said he expects Haren to take his next regular turn, though he did add a mild qualifier.
“I guess we’ll try to do what’s best for everybody,” Mattingly said. “I’m sure Danny’s as frustrated as anybody about that outing. We’ll see where it goes.”
Haren was more than a little irritated.
“I’m really frustrated,” he said. “I’m just embarrassed by my performance. I feel bad for the other guys.”
The Dodgers hardly supported Haren with crisp play on the field or at the plate Friday, but it’s not like he was a complete victim. He gave up seven runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings on eight hits and a pair of walks.
He’s lost his last five consecutive starts (10.03 ERA). He started the season 5-1 with a 2.84 and looked like a great addition to the rotation; since then he’s gone 3-8 with a 6.04 ERA.
“As bad as it’s been, today I felt really good,” he said. “Mentally I tried to clear my head. I felt like good things were going to happen. And then the same results. It’s tough. It’s the toughest time of my career.
“This year, the way we’ve been playing, to kind of be the weak link … I take a lot of responsibility. I take a lot of pride in my preparation, so that hurts that much more. And I have no one to blame by myself.”
But with Maholm injuring his right knee in the seventh covering first, the Dodgers have probably lost their most likely rotation replacement.
And all triple-A Albuquerque can offer is pitchers with inflated ERAs and WHIPs (Zack Lee 5.22/1.49, Red Patterson 5.70/1.45, Carlos Frias 5.01/1.47). At double-A Chattanooga there is Chris Reed (3.22/1.25) and Tyson Brummett (2.79/1.27).
Which is why Haren likely will take his next start.
He has shown a previous ability to turn a season around. Last year he was 4-11 with a 5.79 ERA for the Nationals in his first 18 starts. He finished 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA in his last 13 starts.
He needs to do it again, because the Dodgers are left with few other options.