And he probably won't be the last. Because while pitching — especially starting pitching — was supposed to be the Dodgers' strength this season, six weeks into the schedule the staff remains very much a work in progress.
Three of the team's top five starters have spent time on the disabled list and even
Which means the team could be seeing more of pitchers like Fife, who gave up seven hits in six-plus innings Sunday in a game the
With Ryu ineligible to come off the DL until next week, the Dodgers will need someone to start in his place this weekend.
"You'd love to have the same five guys go out there and everybody get their 30 starts," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "It's not going to happen all the time. The game dictates what we have to do. It's a juggling act at times."
And the Dodgers have gotten very good at juggling. Last season they used 11 starting pitchers and got more than 30 games out of just one, Kershaw, who won the
Six weeks into this season they're already ahead of that pace, having used eight starters in their first 32 games — and seven different ones in the last seven games.
One of those, right-hander Red Patterson, made his major league debut Thursday against the
"There's no rhyme or reason," Honeycutt said. "You'd love to just pencil in five guys pretty much like you pencil in eight [position players] every day. But it just doesn't happen that way."
Yet the banged-up rotation hasn't just weathered the injury storm, it has sailed through it with the starters combining for a baseball-best 14-5 record and 2.99 earned-run average.
The bullpen? Well, not so much.
The loss Sunday was the ninth of the season for a Dodgers reliever, also tops in the majors. And that, too, may be related to the patchwork rotation, which is averaging less than six innings a start. As a result, the bullpen has already thrown 114 innings, second-most in baseball.
Jamey Wright, who took the loss Sunday, finished the game leading NL relievers in innings while
"The season's been kind of, I don't want to say rocky, but your starters are going to determine bullpen usage," Honeycutt said.
So until the rotation gets sorted out, the Dodgers' pitching staff is likely to remain more of a question mark than an answer.