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Dodgers Dugout: Rotation is in a shambles

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws a pitch.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws a pitch in the first inning.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and, if you can pitch six innings, you might want to give the Dodgers a call.

When the season started, the Dodgers were envied for having one of the deepest rotations in baseball: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Julio Urías, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin.

Gonsolin had a sore shoulder at the end of spring training, but no problem, still five starters left, and Gonsolin was going to start the season in the bullpen anyway. May hurts his elbow and needs Tommy John surgery. Tough blow, but Gonsolin will be back soon, we can use a couple of bullpen games until Gonsolin is ready. Bauer has his, well, not sure how to describe it in a family newsletter. But he’s out, and may never return. That’s tough. But Kershaw, Buehler, Urías, Gonsolin and a bullpen game will be OK. Maybe start stretching David Price to be a starter again.

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And then there was Thursday.

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That’s when the Dodgers announced that Kershaw was headed to the 10-day IL because of inflammation in his left forearm. Which is, you know, the arm he pitches with. Topped off by Dave Roberts saying that Kershaw felt “something in his elbow.” That doesn’t sound good, though Roberts said he wasn’t overly concerned.

So now, the rotation is: Buehler, Urías, Gonsolin and pray for rain. They will probably have to stretch Price out. And then, um, well, Orel Hershiser is at every game. So is Fernando Valenzuela. Maybe they can get that robot pitcher from that “Twilight Zone” episode. But, realistically, the Dodgers have some options: go with bullpen games. They can make a trade. Except there are few teams in a hurry to help out the Dodgers, unless the Dodgers are willing to unload a boatload of prospects. Plus, most teams usually wait until closer to the July 30 trade deadline to decide whether they want to make deals.

The two leading internal candidates in the minors are Josiah Gray and Ryan Pepiot. Gray is the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, but he missed a lot of this season with a balky shoulder and pitched only two innings in his return to triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday. He’ll have to build up some innings before he can help. Pepiot, pitching for double-A Tulsa, took a perfect game into the eighth inning of his most recent start. He has a 1.73 ERA and has given up only 17 hits in 41.2 innings, walking 18 while striking out 57.

Kershaw is scheduled to have an MRI exam today. The results will greatly determine what happens next. If Kershaw will only be out the 10 days, then they can skate by with bullpen games. If he’s out an extended period of time, then more help will be needed.

Losing three of four to the Marlins?

The Dodgers win nine in a row, then lose three of four to the last-place Marlins. As many of you are probably tired of hearing, I always advise not to live game to game. Even the best teams will lose around 60 times a season, and if you are unhappy after each loss, then you are spending two months of your year unhappy. Not worth it. However, the bad part of most Dodger losses this season isn’t the fact that they lose, it’s how they lose. Sloppy defense. Mental errors. Those are the aggravating losses. Sometimes, other teams just play better than you that day. Even teams that have a worse record. And you just tip your cap to them and come back the next day. But when you beat yourself, that’s a problem, especially when the playoffs roll around.

“It doesn’t matter what anything says on paper, you still have to show up and play the game and do all the little things right,” Justin Turner said after Wednesday’s loss. “We’re not doing all the little things right now, and it seems like we’re paying for every little mistake that we make.”

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Reggie Smith

A few days ago, Dave Roberts, who will manage the NL in the All-Star game, hinted that their could be a special surprise coach on his staff for the game. A Dodger legend. On Thursday, we found out who that would be: Reggie Smith.

“What he did in the game of baseball, what he did off the field, what he has continued to do off the field for urban youth, shouldn’t go unnoticed,” Roberts said. “When I told him, he got pretty choked up. Reggie’s a very humble guy, hasn’t been around the big leagues in quite some time, so I just thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring him back.”

Smith played for the Dodgers from 1976-81 and was probably the best player on the 1977-78 NL pennant teams. He is one of the most underrated players in baseball history and it’s nice to see him honored like this.

Betts an All-Star?

Judging by emails, a lot of you were surprised, and somewhat unhappy, that Mookie Betts made the All-Star team this year. A key member of the Dodgers agrees with you: Mookie Betts.

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“Obviously I haven’t played that great, so I was definitely surprised but also very thankful for making the team.” And what does Betts think of his play so far this season? “Bad. This would be bad.”

Trevor Bauer update

Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave has been extended for an additional seven days. The odds are that Bauer has pitched his last game for the Dodgers, who canceled the Trevor Bauer bobblehead night that was scheduled for later this season, and have pulled all Bauer merchandise from their stores. For more on Bauer:

MLB punishment precedent doesn’t bode well for Trevor Bauer, even if he isn’t charged

If Trevor Bauer testifies at hearing, it could create problems for him, lawyers say

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Roster moves

There were some roster moves the last couple of days, mainly shuffling relievers up and down to have fresh arms in the bullpen. A couple of things worth noting: Steven Souza Jr. was designated for assignment, which basically means he is off the 40-man roster. I thought it was odd they have Souza No. 23, which hasn’t been given out since Adrian Gonzalez last wore it in 2017. And it was also the number for Eric Karros, Kirk Gibson and Claude Osteen, among many others.

The Dodgers also removed Yoshi Tsutsugo off the 40-man roster. He has agreed to play for triple-A Oklahoma City.

These names look familiar

A look at how players from the 2020 Dodgers who are no longer on the team are faring this season (through Thursday):

Pedro Báez, Houston, On the 60-day IL with shoulder soreness

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Dylan Floro, Miami: 2-4, 3.09 ERA, 2 saves (35 IP, 31 hits, 17 walks, 30 strikeouts)

Kiké Hernández, Boston: .239/.315/.425 (18 doubles, 1 triple, 10 HRs, 28 RBIs, 97 OPS+)

Adam Kolarek, Oakland: 8.00 ERA (9 IP, 15 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts), in minors

Jake McGee, San Francisco: 3-2, 2.88 ERA, 17 saves (34.1 IP, 23 hits, 6 walks, 39 strikeouts)

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Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs: .226/.294/.409 (9 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 36 RBIs, 94 OPS+)

Josh Sborz, Texas: 3-3, 4.50 ERA, 1 save (32 IP, 26 hits, 16 walks, 44 strikeouts)

Ross Stripling, Toronto: 3-4, 4.06 ERA (71 IP, 65 hits, 21 walks, 73 strikeouts)

Alex Wood, San Francisco: 8-3, 3.67 ERA (83.1 IP, 69 hits, 27 walks, 87 strikeouts)

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Up next

Tonight, Arizona (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Saturday, Arizona (Caleb Smith, 2-5, 3.45 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 8-1, 2.49 ERA), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Sunday, Arizona (Merrill Kelly, 5-7, 4.60 ERA) at Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 1-0, 2.11 ERA), 1 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

And finally

Roy Firestone interviews Vin Scully. Watch it here.

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Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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