The Oakland Athletics' starting rotation boasted the best earned-run average in the American League. No matter. The A's just traded for two starting pitchers.
The Dodgers' starting rotation boasts the best ERA in the National League. No matter. The Dodgers are looking into trading for a starting pitcher as well.
This is not a sudden development, although fans would be forgiven for thinking so. On Tuesday, the Dodgers put Josh Beckett on the disabled list, then watched Hyun-Jin Ryu get seven outs and give up seven runs.
The Dodgers might have played their worst game of the season, a 14-5 loss in which they roared to a 5-0 lead against Justin Verlander in the first inning, then collapsed. The lead was gone in the second inning, and the Tigers scored 14 consecutive runs.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly got ejected in the sixth inning, without leaving the dugout, for arguing balls and strikes. Mattingly said he was not arguing with the plate umpire, just telling Adrian Gonzalez to try to get the pitcher "to throw it in a tea cup."
There was nothing mischievous when Mattingly went to the mound in the second inning, after Ryu had given up four consecutive hits. Mattingly rarely visits the mound without removing the pitcher, but the manager said he could tell Ryu was getting frustrated with the strike zone and wanted to tell him to stop worrying about it. Ryu said he was frustrated by all the hits he was giving up, not by the strike zone, then gave up four more hits before the inning was over.
Ryu and the Dodgers chalked this start up as one of those nights. The Beckett injury might be more significant.
Beckett, 34, was put on the disabled list after an MRI examination revealed what the team said was an impingement in the left hip. Beckett has been on the disabled list 16 times in his 14-year career.
The Dodgers hope Beckett can return July 22, meaning he would sit out only one start, thanks to the All-Star break, but they are prepared for him to sit out more.
General Manager Ned Colletti declined to say how important he considers it to add starting pitching depth, given the injury to Beckett, the 4.87 ERA posted by Dan Haren since May 1 and the limited alternatives in the organization.
The Dodgers' options to take Beckett's turn Saturday, Mattingly said, are reliever Paul Maholm, who is 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA in seven starts this season, and Red Patterson, who is 3-7 with a 5.15 ERA at triple-A Albuquerque.
Colletti said Beckett's injury has no effect on the trade deadline plans the Dodgers already are exploring.
"It won't change our approach," Colletti said. "We are hopeful Josh can be back before the end of the month.
"Typically, we have been active in July and August. If there is a deal we feel can make us better, we will pursue it."
The Dodgers are in it to win it this season — their owners certainly put up a world-record payroll to win it — and a lengthy injury to Beckett could hamper their chances to win the National League West. Beckett ranks third in the league with a 2.26 ERA.
They could pursue depth, a back-of-the-rotation starter along the lines of Jake Peavy of the Boston Red Sox or Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets. Or they could pursue insurance against what could be October disaster — an injury to Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke — and set themselves up nicely for next season by surrendering top prospects for David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays or Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Dodgers would not say exactly what they would like to do. But one club official noted the team arrived in spring training last year with three surplus starters, then had to dip into the minor leagues in April.
The Dodgers do not really have any surplus starters now. The July trade deadline is three weeks away.