July 17, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Stephen Fife (56) pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Have the Dodgers Sacrificed Pitching for Lineup Depth?

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Stephen Fife (0-0, 1.46) vs. Patrick Corbin (2-4, 4.15)

Dodgers Lineup vs. Arizona

Victorino 7

Ethier 9

Kemp 8

Ramirez 5

Rivera 3

Hairston 4

Cruz 6

Ellis 2

Fife 1

 

Shane Victorino makes his Dodger debut today. Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Dodgers have always been a baseball organization which prides itself in excellent pitching. This season has been no different, and the Dodgers’ starting rotation has been executing as the second best in the league. The farm system is heavy in pitching prospects as well, but now after trading away Nathan Eovaldi, Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom, Scott McGough, and Logan Bawcom have the Dodgers jeopardized their pitching prowess for the future? Luckily the Dodgers did not trade away any of their top prospects like Zach Lee or Allen Webster. Yet with the recent regression of Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano coupled with the inconsistency of Chad Billingsley and the inexperience of fill-in Stephen Fife, the Dodger rotation suddenly shows signs of possible late season weakness. Remember, the Dodgers are counting on the return of Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa who have both been disabled almost the entirety of the season. Aside from Fife, we would have to reach down to the minors and use Jon Ely or Allen Webster in a pinch. If we do make it to the postseason, we would need to count on Kershaw, Billingsley, Capuano, and Lilly to pitch those high stake games. Without a trade deadline pitching acquisition, the Dodgers will have to run with what they have which could likely mean a Stephen Fife September.

One of the reasons why we’re even questioning the Dodgers’ rotation this season is because of the offseason bankruptcy saga which sucked dry any monetary resources Ned Colletti needed to shape the 2012 rotation. Unfortunately the Dodgers could not afford the $10 million needed to resign Hiroki Kuroda, so instead they signed the cheaper duo of Harang and Capuano. But remember, the Dodgers also poured over $10 million into signing Juan Rivera and James Loney this winter. I have contemplated that perhaps if they went with Nathan Eovaldi and a Jerry Sands or a Scott Van Slyke at first base and signed Kuroda, then how different would our rotation look? Hindsight is 50/50, and we must work with what we have. Perhaps it’s just because I miss Hiroki’s dedication and tenacity.

The bullpen has been plagued with injury and changeover as well. Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth have been disabled for the entire season, and we don’t expect them back. Todd Coffey succumbed to Tommy John surgery. Javy Guerra underwent knee surgery, and has had a tough luck season as he lost his closer role to Kenley Jansen after regression kicked in. Scott Elbert recently landed on the DL. The Dodgers have just traded away Josh Lindblom, who has been unquestionably a key component of the Dodger bullpen success this season after making 48 appearances in relief. His absence will surely be felt. Jamey Wright has been a bit better than we expected, and we can’t really complain about his mop-up role assignment. The Dodgers picked up Brandon League and Randy Choate to fill some of those holes. Ronald Belisario was spectacular most of the season, although he has faltered somewhat of late. Time will tell if this new bullpen configuration will have continued success down the stretch.

 

Stephen Fife looks for his first career win. Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Stephen Fife will make his third start for the Dodgers today against the D-backs in the final game of the series. The right-hander is still looking for his first career win. In each of his first two starts, Fife easily deserved the win in the no-decisions. He outpitched both Roy Halladay and Matt Cain, and he has only allowed 2 earned runs through 12 1/3 innings pitched so far. This will be Fife’s first start against the D-backs.

The D-backs will bring up Patrick Corbin today to start in place of Josh Collmenter who will

Patrick Corbin moves into the Arizona rotation. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

be moved into the bullpen. Corbin has made five starts this season for Arizona. He lost to the Dodgers back on May 21st, but picked up a save in a three-inning relief appearance against the Dodgers on July 8th. He holds a 3.24 ERA against the Dodgers during those two appearances.

The Dodgers would love to begin the new month on a winning note. They finished the month of July with a perfectly mediocre record of 13-13. The NL West standings are closer than ever. The Dodgers are one game back of San Francisco, and the D-backs are right back in the race as they sit 3 1/2 games out of first and 2 1/2 back of the Dodgers. The Dodgers need to stave off the sweep tonight.  

The newly revamped lineup looked good in San Francisco, but it hasn’t been clicking at home against Arizona. Perhaps Shane Victorino will be the spark plug which could help ignite this offensively deeper Dodger lineup. Victorino will make his Dodger debut tonight, and I’ll be doing my best to try to forget his shady past against the dodgers. If we want to take this division, the offense will need to boost this team to the top. There’s a little over two months remaining. The time is now to make our move.

First pitch will be at 12:10 pm and televised on Prime Ticket.

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Tags: Aaron Harang Arizona Diamondbacks Chad Billingsley Chris Capuano Hiroki Kuroda Los Angeles Dodgers Nathan Eovaldi Patrick Corbin Shane Victorino Stephen Fife

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