Column: Enough! Dodgers need to rescue lousy starting rotation and trade for an ace, now!

Dodgers fans will be watching Andrew Friedman at the trade deadline.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
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Enough reliever starts. Enough rookie starts. Enough rattled starts.

Enough starts that last four innings. Enough starts that give up five runs. Enough starts that hold no hope.

The Dodgers have barely played half of their games, but when it comes to their starting pitching, the operative word is enough.

Enough of trying to patch together an injured and ineffective rotation with a glue stick and paper clips.


Enough of saving money to make an offseason run at Shohei Ohtani.

They need to surrender prospects and take on debt and do whatever it takes to trade for an ace starting pitcher or they have zero shot at a championship.

They need to find somebody who can take the ball in one of the first two games of what could be a three-game wild-card playoff series or they have zero shot at surviving that series.

They need somebody who can make the fans scream like they screamed before Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates when Mexican singing star Peso Pluma took the field to throw out the first pitch.

Bobby Miller has a gutsy effort, pitching around two costly mistakes, as the Dodgers defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4.

July 5, 2023

You get the picture.

But does the Dodgers’ front office?

That is the question.

They were faced with this dilemma last season and, for the first time in the Andrew Friedman era, they failed to add any sort of substantial pitching. The ensuing playoff run lasted all of four games.

Friedman has still earned the benefit of the doubt based on previous trade-deadline acquisitions such as Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer. But that benefit is shrinking.


Against the backdrop of Ohtani’s impending free agency and amid the chatter that management is increasingly resigned to viewing this as a rebuilding season, the outside pressure and inside expectations are growing into a dull roar.

Enough of this talk about broken starting pitching.

Go get somebody who can fix it.

Before Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over the Pirates, I asked manager Dave Roberts if this rotation was as bad as any rotation in his eight seasons here.

“Ummm…it depends on what you define as bad,” he said.

He asked for it.

Dodgers pitcher Dustin May will undergo right elbow surgery later this month to repair the flexor tendon he injured earlier this season.

July 4, 2023

Entering Wednesday, in statistics compiled by Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, since May 17 the Dodgers starters ranked 26th out of 30 teams with 4.7 innings per start. During that same time they ranked 29th with a 5.43 ERA. Not coincidentally, their record since then was 20-22.

Since coming to Los Angeles 65 years ago, the Dodgers have had four stretches in which starting pitching didn’t last four innings for four consecutive games. This year it’s already happened twice.

Bad enough for you?

Roberts admitted they were searching for possible additions.

“I think starting pitching is always helpful,” he said. “And are we looking and kicking tires? Absolutely. Talk about where we’re at on the depth chart, guys we’ve kind of gone through, guys that potentially could come back, which is still an unknown. … So I think, to your question, that’s always helpful.”

How about, forget kicking those tires. How about, just buy the dang car?

When asked if he was confident the front office would make the necessary improvements, Roberts nodded.


“I do. I am,” he said. “I think if you look at the track record of our guys, whenever there’s been a need, a void, a hole, a weakness — whatever it might be — we’ve done a great job of filling those holes.”

Well, there’s plenty of holes to work with.

Start with Clayton Kershaw. His season has been an inspiration; who would have thought the oldest player on the team would be the best? But he’s 35, he’s hurt again, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that he’ll be strong enough in October to summon his historic magic.

Clayton Kershaw joined the long list of Dodgers pitchers on the injured list Monday, though the problem with his shoulder is not believed to be serious.

July 3, 2023

Then there’s Julio Urías. He struggled in his return from a hamstring injury and who knows how much he’s struggling with thoughts of his impending free agency? He should be an ace. He is not an ace, and nobody knows whether he will ever be an ace before he leaves town.

This is the spot where this column should be waxing about the third starter except, well, there is none.

It was supposed to be Dustin May. The Dodgers just announced he’s having elbow surgery and is done for the year.

It was supposed to be Tony Gonsolin, but he hasn’t been the same since he more than doubled his career workload last season with 130 ⅓ innings pitched.


It could have been Noah Syndergaard, but he’s been terrible and there is seemingly no number of minor league rehabilitation starts that will change that.

It’s probably Bobby Miller, who was impressive at first, but struggled lately, and Wednesday he was booed before the game was five minutes old as he gave up a first-inning home run to Bryan Reynolds and wound up giving up four runs in 5 ⅔ innings. He got the win, he’s July good, but can the hard-throwing kid be October good?

As for fourth and fifth starters … you’re kidding, right? Those slots have been filled with a parade of rookies who have suffered understandable growing pains.

Michael Grove, decent but green. Emmet Sheehan, could be great but shouldn’t be here now. Gavin Stone, not ready. Ryan Pepiot, oblique injury.

This is the part of the column where you dear readers probably wonder, “OK smart guy, who is out there? Who is on the market for the Dodgers to pick up?”

The thing is, with the Aug. 1 trade deadline still more than three weeks away, availability can drastically change based on a team’s place in the standings. There’s little use compiling a list of candidates lest that list eventually look foolish.


But what the heck. One name sticks out. Possibly sitting atop the available list is Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians, a 2020 Cy Young Award winner who was brilliant in last year’s postseason and currently leads the American League with 18 starts while fashioning a 3.66 ERA. He takes the ball. He pitches well in big games. Heck, he’s from Laguna Hills.

No matter what direction the Dodgers’ front office looks, it needs to look hard and long and everywhere.

Stop the starter madness.

Enough is enough.