Jun 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Dan Haren (14) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Haren and the Improbable Dream: Dodgers Seek Series Win in Pittsburgh

The Dodgers are 2-3 on their current road trip, and they will be looking to fend off the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon so not to lose their second series in a row since they resumed play after the All-Star Break. Tuesday’s loss to Pittsburgh was messy and put a spotlight on just how bad the Dodgers’ bullpen is. Chris Perez, Jamey Wright, and Paul Maholm allowed 8 horrific runs combined in relief of the injured Josh Beckett. The Dodgers couldn’t overcome the shaky pitching even though they hit two homeruns and scored 7 runs altogether.

Dan Haren (8-7, 4.30) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.43)

Lineup: 

Gordon 2B

Kemp RF

Gonzalez 1B

Van Slyke CF

Uribe 3B

Crawford LF

Rojas SS

Butera C

Haren P

Chris Perez is truly awful. While Jamey Wright didn’t necessarily install confidence in me during his atrocious relief appearance yesterday, Perez has been downright awful for the entire season since the Dodgers signed the fallen former Cleveland closer in the offseason. Chris Perez’s nickname is “Pure Rage,” and he sure instills pure rage in me when I watch him pitch. I can’t make this stuff up.

The big right-hander is on pace for a career-worst season. His ERA (5.35) is a full point higher than his last year’s numbers, and his BB/9 is 4.8 which is on pace for a career-worst as well (tied with his rookie year for St. Louis back in 2008). Perez walked an eye-popping four consecutive batters in Tuesday’s debacle, a feat I can say I have never personally witnessed a Dodger pitcher accomplish since I can remember (it happened 25 years ago by the way, but I was ten and don’t remember). Perez made 25 pitches in his outing, and he only threw 8 strikes. What was even more infuriating then Perez’s poor pitching, was Don Mattingly‘s reluctance to make a pitching change during the epic meltdown. He just sat there and let it happen.

While I yearn for a Perez designated for assignment announcement on Wednesday, I fear that won’t happen until more batters are walked and more hearts are broken. The Dodgers signed Perez on a one-year $2.3 million contract, and the year is more than halfway over. Losing a little more than $1 million in order to lose this deadweight off the roster seems like a bargain to me. The bullpen would be instantly bolstered with Perez gone. Paco Rodriguez can’t return for 10 days unless an injury allows for it, but I’d take a Pedro Baez or even a Jose Dominguez at this point.

Dan Haren is going to the mound for the Dodgers in the rubber match on Wednesday afternoon. While he isn’t necessarily as bad as

Chris Perez has pitched poorly for the Dodgers this season. Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Perez has pitched poorly for the Dodgers this season. Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Perez, he’s not exactly an ace by any standard. Haren, who started off the season decently for the Dodgers has been bad for months now. I admit that I though Ned Colletti’s offseason signing of Haren was a smart choice, but with Beckett’s hip injury and the inability of Haren to go deep into games, the Dodgers suddenly need to look at other options for their rotation. The 33-year old has lost three games in a row, and he hasn’t been able to make it through the fifth inning in his last two starts. Haren is 3-2 against Pittsburgh with a 4.92 ERA in 9 career starts. He has allowed 11 homeruns during those 9 starts. Interestingly, he is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in 2 starts at PNC Park. Reigning M.V.P. Andrew McCutchen has hit 2 homeruns against Haren in the past.

Dan Haren has pitched 117 1/3 out of 180 innings needed to vest his $10 million option for 2015.

Francisco Liriano will be vying for just his second win of the season for the Bucs. The left-hander has struggled, and hasn’t won since May 30th when he beat the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium ironically. The lefty has actually pitched well against the Dodgers, and he is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA against them in 2 career starts. Expect Scott Van Slyke to get the start today versus the southpaw.

Prediction: Adrian Gonzalez has another multi-hit game.

Even though the Dodgers were pushed back into second place and now are one game behind the rival Giants after Tuesday’s loss, everything isn’t all bad. After all, the Dodgers are still 10 games above .500. Adrian Gonzalez has finally broke out of his frustrating slump, and the first baseman has 5 hits in his last 2 games including a homerun and 2 doubles.

With Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez still on the bench nursing injuries, the Dodgers need to stay afloat while their two sluggers are on the mend. A series finale win in Pittsburgh would leave the Dodgers on a great winning note before they head back to California to play the Giants in the lion’s den on Friday.

Go Blue!

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Tags: Dan Haren Francisco Liriano Los Angeles Dodgers

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