There’s no doubt that the Dodgers need another starter. There are less than 70 games left in the season and I, like everyone else with a pulse AND an emotional investment in this team, can’t really see a future where Brett Anderson (as good as he’s been), Carlos Frias, Brandon Beachy (fresh off TWO TJ surgeries), Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee and maybe even the likes of Trevor Cahill make 40 starts between them. Well, I could see that future, but it wouldn’t be great for the Dodgers.
It’s not that LA can’t get serviceable starts by any combination from those players–they can–it’s just that you’re betting on Black 15, Red 28 and Red 12 rather than plain old boring Red. It’s a huge gamble that those arms are going to get the Dodgers to the postseason… and we’re not even broaching that subject yet. Anderson could break down any day (and he has), Beachy is going to be inconsistent at best after his injuries, Bolsinger has inexplicably gotten through half a season despite throwing two pitches, Frias has been solid but just for stretches and guys like Ian Thomas, Lee, and Cahill can’t be trusted for more than a spot start.
That being said… the cavalry is on the horizon, theoretically. David Price may be available. Cole Hamels has been and forever will be available. If the Dodgers want to create the best 1-2-3 punch in the league, it’s more than a possibility.
The real questions are: would that be worth the cost? And is it necessary?
The answers to both those questions lie within whether or not you think the Dodgers can win this division without giving up the bounty in prospects it would take to nab any of these pitchers. With a division lead that teeters between 1 and 5 games depending on the day, LA looks like it could win the West with the arms on hand and the incredible offensive depth that Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Josh Byrnes have built up throughout the past 7 months. Right?
Again, it’s a gamble. It’s gambling on Brett Anderson to throw 200 innings (which already looks suspect), which he has done exactly zero times in his injury-riddled career. It’s gambling that Bolsinger and Frias can somehow keep up their league average production. It’s gambling that the bullpen can stand up and keep on throwing strikes if the starters falter.
The answer is that reinforcements are absolutely necessary, if for no other reason than this franchise has ALREADY gambled 200 million dollars on the most expensive roster in North American sports history. The team is already all-in: no reason to risk losing a season that has so much going for it now.
However, are Cy Young Award winners and All-Stars necessary? There’s no team in the Majors that couldn’t benefit from an all-world pitcher like Price or Hamels, but with Greinke and Kershaw on the roster, it may not be essential. Especially not with giving up a young arm like Jose De Leon or Grant Holmes.
What the Dodgers need is a pitcher that’s going to hold down the number 3 or 4 spot for a dozen starts and provide better coverage for the team than say, a journeyman like Mike Bolsinger or a functional rookie in Carlos Frias. They need a guy who could give them a quality start in Game 3 of the NLCS. Could Price or Hamels give them that? Of course. But could a guy like Mike Leake or Dan Haren perform nearly as admirably? Absolutely.
The Dodgers are all-in this season, but I could say that about any season down the road for the next ten years. Grant Holmes is a part of that. So is Julio Urias and Corey Seager. The Dodgers need a boost at the midway point, not a space rocket attached to their backs. The top-tier available arms are great, but ultimately, they may not be necessary. LA has to the two guys they need to win it all. Now they just need a more sure bet to prop them up. The trade deadline is just days away.