The Dodgers were well-established as searching for pitching upgrades ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline. In the end, they managed to make some minor additions, adding right-handers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly in a deal with the White Sox and picking up left-hander Ryan Yarbrough from the Royals, but failed to land any of the impactful starters that were moved like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Jordan Montgomery. The club had a deal in place with the Tigers to acquire lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, though Rodriguez vetoed the trade using his 10-team no-trade list, which included the Dodgers. After failing to acquire an impact starter at the deadline, the club will have to lean heavily on the group of arms already in the organization down the stretch.
To that end, the Dodgers relayed good news regarding a pair of arms currently on the injured list yesterday starting with lefty veteran Clayton Kershaw. The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer delivered a 2.55 ERA in sixteen starts prior to going on the IL at the end of June and could return to the mound as soon as next week for the Dodgers. As noted by J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register, Kershaw’s most recent simulated game inspired confidence in manager Dave Roberts to the point that he suggested Kershaw likely won’t require a rehab assignment in the minor leagues before returning to the big league club. Per Hoornstra, one more bullpen session is on the docket for the club’s veteran ace before they decide whether he’ll make his return in Arizona on either Tuesday or Wednesday or wait to face the Rockies at Dodger Stadium later in the week.
The Dodgers also had positive news to offer regarding right-hander Walker Buehler, who has missed the entire season to this point while rehabbing Tommy John surgery. As relayed by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Roberts indicated yesterday that Buehler has nearly reached the point in his recovery process where he will begin a minor league rehab assignment. Earlier this season, Buehler expressed a desire to make it back to the majors this year, with a target date of September 1. That goal seemingly remains unchanged, though it was initially thought that a September return for Buehler would likely come as a member of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Roberts indicates that isn’t the case, however, as the righty will be built up as a starter as he aims to return to the majors next month.
A healthy and effective Buehler would be a huge boon for a Dodgers rotation that has seen its starting staff struggle to a 5.86 ERA since Kershaw’s last start back in June. Prior to his injury-shortened 2022 campaign, Buehler had been one of the best starters in the game over the past four seasons, with a 2.82 ERA and 3.16 FIP across 564 innings of work between 2018 and 2021. That included a sensational 2021 campaign, where Buehler finished fourth in Cy Young award voting after throwing 207 2/3 innings of 2.47 ERA baseball.
More from the other side of town…
- Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani exited his start against the Mariners yesterday after just four innings due to cramping in his middle finger, as noted by ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels phenom stayed in the game as a hitter, but the departure continues a worrying trend of issues hampering Ohtani on the mound, as he dealt with a cracked fingernail and blister on that same finger last month. Since his battle against those injuries began, he’s struggled on the mound with a 5.52 ERA across his last five starts. While the combined thirteen scoreless innings from his last two starts would normally be encouraging, the prospect of Ohtani potentially missing a start is a worrisome one for the Angels, who at 56-54 need every win they can get if they’re to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
- While Ohtani’s health is in question, the Angels received a positive update regarding the status of infielder Brandon Drury yesterday, per MLB.com. Drury, who has been on the shelf with a shoulder contusion since the end of June, started a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday and is scheduled to play another rehab game tonight. If that goes well, it’s possible he’ll rejoin the major league roster as soon as tomorrow to contribute to an infield mix that has primarily relied on Mike Moustakas, C.J. Cron, Zach Neto, Luis Rengifo, and Eduardo Escobar in recent weeks. When on the field, it’s been a strong season for Drury, who sports a 122 wRC+ in 75 games with the club while playing first and second base for the Angels.
- While he may not be as close to returning as Drury, the Angels also received good news regarding veteran superstar Mike Trout yesterday. Trout underwent surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone in early July with a four-to-eight week timeline for return. It sounds like Trout’s return may come on the earlier end of that spectrum, as manager Phil Nevin reports that Trout had progressed to hitting off a tee yesterday, per MLB.com, adding that his ramp-up to returning to game action should be a quick one. It’s been a relative down season for Trout, as he’s slashed “only” .263/.369/.493 with a wRC+ of 137 in 81 games. Those excellent numbers may be a far cry from his career wRC+ of 170, but the 31-year-old superstar is well established as not only one of the greats of today’s game, but one of the finest hitters in baseball history.