The Los Angeles Dodgers may be in first place in the National League West, but it hasn't been easy sledding for the most expensive team on the planet. Two of the Dodgers' projected starting rotation members are currently injured, leaving LA scrambling to find stability for their rotation. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu has been on the DL since spring training with a left shoulder impingement. His return date is not yet known. What is known is that the Dodgers will be without Brandon McCarthy for the rest of the season. The off-season free agent acquisition suffered a torn UCL in his throwing elbow and will require Tommy John surgery.
McCarthy inked a four-year deal with the Dodgers during the off-season. He was coming off of a standout second-half of the 2014 campaign, when he had a 2.89 ERA and 82 strike-outs in 90.1 innings for the New York Yankees. McCarthy had made four starts for the Dodgers. He was 3-0, but his ERA was 5.87 and he had allowed an uncharacteristic nine homeruns in 23 innings.
Rehab after Tommy John surgery generally takes about a year, so the Dodgers will be without McCarthy until at least sometime early next season. In the meantime, LA will need to figure out a longterm replacement for McCarthy for the 2015 season.
With deep pockets and a talented farm system, the Dodgers could pursue a trade target to replace McCarthy. Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is an obvious candidate to be acquired by LA. Another possibility is left-hander Scott Kazmir, who is off to a terrific start for the struggling Oakland A's. Kazmir is signed only through this season.
The Dodgers current rotation features two former Cy Young award-winners in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but the only other healthy member of the projected rotation besides Kershaw and Greinke is Brett Anderson, who hasn't been able to avoid the disabled list in any year of his career except the 2009 season, when he was a rookie.
LA has a pair of starting pitching prospects to keep an eye on this season: right-hander Zach Lee, who is currently pitching in Triple-A, and left-hander Julio Urias. Scott Baker, a longtime major-league veteran fifth starter, is currently filling in for Ryu, but he isn't viewed as a longterm answer for the Dodgers. Urias is just 19 and will not likley be an option for LA until the second half of the year, but Lee is off to a red-hot start for Oklahoma City. He has an 0.95 ERA in three starts and has an 18:4 K:BB. The 23-year-old had 28 outings (27 starts) at the Triple-A level last season, so he should be ready to make the jump to the big leagues from an experience perspective.
The Dodgers could also get some help off of their disabled list later in the year. Right-hander Brandon Beachy, the former Atlanta Braves starter, signed a free agent deal with LA during the off-season. He is rehabbing his second Tommy John surgery and could be ready in a month or so.
Los Angeles currently holds a one-game lead in the NL West after taking the first game of their home series against the San Francisco Giants.