The Dodgers are in the catbird’s seat in the NL West as the month of July comes to a close; however, the Giants are nibbling at their feet, trailing only by three games. LA and SF have already met 12 times with the Giants winning nine, including three straight shutouts. Though it appears certain that both teams will make the playoffs, the Dodgers are going to need another arm in the rotation to go behind the tremendous one-two combination of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Two starters the Dodgers had at the beginning of the season, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, have both been declared out for the rest of the year. Andrew Friedman, President of Baseball Operations, cannot use the old mantra, “Spahn and Sain and a day of rain!”…subbing Zack and Kershaw for Spahn and Sain. There is little doubt, among baseball pundits, that the Dodgers need at least one more solid starting pitcher to get them into the playoffs and out of the first round as the Boys in Blue aim for their first World Series appearance since 1988 (has it really been that long?!”
A lot of recent talk has the Dodgers making a play for veteran left-hander Cole Hamels of Philadelphia. The California native is locked up through 2018 and the Dodgers are probably the only team that can take on his $22.7 a year salary. Trouble is, the Phillies are probably going to ask for one of the Dodgers’ top prospects, Corey Seager or Julio Urias. Friedman does not want to part with either one of them, and he cannot be blamed for taking that stance. So, LA will probably resort to “renting” a player…someone who is due to become a free agent after this year. Here are some of the top candidates:
Yovani Gallardo, Texas Currently, Gallardo is 7-9 with the Rangers but with a respectable 2.91 ERA. He is 29 and has started five post-season games.
Ian Kennedy, San Diego The experiment down South has failed miserably, so the Padres may be willing to unload Kennedy for maybe one prospect. He is 30 and has two postseason starts to his credit.
Mat Latos, Miami When Giancarlo Stanton went down, so did the Marlins’ playoff chances. Latos, who came to the Marlins via Cincinnati, is only 27 and could be a solid number three for a contending team.
Kyle Kendrick, Colorado Kendrick is only 3-11 for the hapless Rockies, but see above for pitching better with a contending team.
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Most people think the Reds will be sellers and Leake is one candidate sure to be dealt. He is 8-5 with a 3.78 ERA…plus, he is a pretty darn good hitter (.218 career average with five homers and 20 RBI).
J.A. Happ, Seattle Happ has one of the most post-season career starts (8) while he was with the Phillies. He is 30 years old and, as a lefty, would be a great fill-in for Ryu.
Chad Billingsley, Philadelphia Yes, he pitched with the Dodgers before but it appears that “Bills” has overcome his injuries; plus, the Dodgers know him. He started six post-season games for the Blue Crew.
Bartolo Colon, New York Mets I know…I know! Colon is 42 years old; but, gosh darn it, he keeps on winning! Yesterday, he dueled Kershaw and lost, only 1-0. He also has the most post-season starts, with 10.
Manager Don Mattingly really doesn’t have anybody at the minor league level that could come up and throw solidly for the rest of the year. The only possibility is Zach Lee, who is 7-3 with a 2.36 ERA at AAA Oklahoma City, but the Dodgers may not be ready to rush the 23-year-old to the bigs.
Whatever the Dodgers decide to do, they had better do it quickly. They have seven more games left with the Giants, and they close out July and begin August with the cross-freeway rivals, the Angels.