Clayton Kershaw (Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
With the All-Star break ending, the Los Angeles Dodgers will return to the field Friday in Washington against the Nationals. Ricky Nolasco will be on the mound for his third start as a Dodger, second straight after he pitched in the first half finale against the Colorado Rockies.
Just 13 days remain before the July 31 trade deadline, and the Dodgers still trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by 2.5 games and have needs that could be addressed. However, despite all the continuing rumors surrounding Matt Garza, Los Angeles should decline the rumored outrageous asking price for him or any other starter.
Stephen Fife’s stint on the 15-day disabled list will be up in July 22, in time to make his next start after the Dodgers reordered the rotation. His season has been a surprise, with his production more than the team could have expected this season and possibly in his career. A throw-in to the Trayvon Robinson from 2011, in which the Dodgers netted Tim Federowicz, Fife has a 2.76 ERA in 45.2 innings with 35 strikeouts. Improving his BB/9 from 4.05 in 26.2 innings during the 2012 season to 2.36 this season has been the most obvious key to his success.
Chris Capuano, and possibly Ted Lilly, are headed to the bullpen as soon as Fife returns to the rotation, the Dodgers can not afford to deal away any useful talent just to further cram the roster full of starting pitchers. Nolasco’s two starts have been solid, at the least good enough to be an improvement over the parade of has-beens Los Angeles sent out to start the year.
With Nolasco joining Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, and rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu as the probable playoff rotation, another arm would simply push him out and make his acquisition somewhat of a waste. Those four should be good enough for the Dodgers to feel confident in any playoff series, especially when considering the amount of money they gave to Greinke and Ryu to fill such roles.
Trusting an unproven Fife and the newcomer Nolasco to hold down the back end of the rotation in the middle of a pennant race may be tough. But filling the active roster, and by extension bullpen, full of starters the team will not cut ties would be counter productive to a trade for Garza or any other starter.
When considering the prospect cost as well, Los Angeles is better served to look to further improve its offense, either at second or third base. Given Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford’s inability to stay healthy, the team needs as much offense it can get and should rely on the pitching currently sitting on its roster.