Sarah's Take: Injuries taking toll on Dodgers' depth

Sarah's Take: Injuries taking toll on Dodgers' depth

On Thursday, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti attempted to strengthen his club's pitching staff by acquiring veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez from the Philadelphia Phillies for two players to be named and cash considerations.

The next day, the Dodgers placed right-hander Josh Beckett on the 15-day disabled list. A little before the All-Star break, Beckett had a hip impingement. Returning immediately after the break, the hip injury still affected his performance.

Beckett underwent an MRI on the painful hip. It showed he had a groin pull in addition to the hip impingement. The Dodgers are hopeful that Beckett can return to the starting rotation, but it is unlikely.

Losing Beckett, perhaps for the season, is quite a blow for the Dodgers, and it weakened the starting rotation. Instead of adding depth to the pitching staff, Colletti acquired Hernandez as a replacement starter. The Dodgers' rotation depth has suffered with Chad Billingsley unable to return from Tommy John surgery and Paul Maholm tearing his ACL on Friday. Before his tremendous outing against the Los Angeles Angels, Dan Haren appeared that he needed to be replaced, but the Dodgers didn't have an experienced starter to replace him with.

Entering Spring Training, no one knew what to expect from Beckett, who was returning from thoracic outlet surgery. Not many Major League pitchers had been successful returning from that injury. At 33, Beckett wasn't a good candidate to have a successful comeback. The uncertainty surrounding Beckett caused Colletti to sign Maholm as an insurance policy.

During Spring Training, despite having a sprained thumb that affected his grip on a curveball, Beckett displayed an ability to be a successful Major League starter again. A fantastic power pitcher when he hurled for the Florida Marlins and during his early years with the Boston Red Sox, Beckett was thought to be a poor candidate to become a successful finesse pitcher.

Beginning the season on the disabled list, Beckett didn't appear until the third series of the year. In his first start, he toiled without good results. But Beckett improved with every start. Often not getting adequate run support, he received several losses that he didn't deserve.

Beginning in May, Beckett started to win. On May 25, utilizing his curveball brilliantly, he pitched the first no-hitter of his career. Beckett continued to dominate opponents until he injured his hip.

While attempting to pitch injured, Beckett's endurance suffered. The Dodgers finally put him on the disabled list just before the All-Star break, then rushed him back before he healed completely. Beckett was less effective and lasted shorter in each successive start. It was obvious he needed to return to the disabled list, and yet the lack of pitching depth made the Dodgers hesitant to do so.

Since last Friday night, the Dodgers have lost three relievers and Beckett. If the Dodgers hadn't been winning games against the Angels, the media would have focused on the injuries to the bullpen.

Not many contenders can survive three injuries to the bullpen. Even though the Dodgers haven't said it, Maholm is not likely to return this season. Chris Perez, who has been a major disappointment, has bone chips in his ankle, and it's also likely that Perez is out for the season.

On Friday, a day after being traded, Hernandez pitched well for six innings despite allowing two runs in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. He should have won the game, but the Dodgers gave him inadequate run support and the bullpen couldn't hold the lead. If he continues pitching like Friday night, Hernandez will be an asset for the Dodgers.

Also on Friday night, in the top of the first inning, Hanley Ramirez pulled an oblique muscle. Despite being determined to stay off the disabled list this season, Ramirez had to head to the DL. Since oblique injuries are tricky, no one knows when he'll be able return. This injury weakens the Dodgers' offense and lessens Ramirez's worth as a free agent at the end of the season.

In Ramirez's absence, Miguel Rojas will play the bulk of the time at shortstop even though the Dodgers promoted newly acquired utility infielder Darwin Barney. The defense at shortstop definitely will be better, and help make up for the offensive shortcomings. In 2012, Barney, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, earned the National League Gold Glove playing second base. He will be the backup for Rojas, a superior defensive shortstop.

This is a good time for the Dodgers to evaluate whether they need to re-sign Ramirez this offseason. During the past two years since Ramirez joined the Dodgers from the Miami Marlins, he has been injury prone. In 2013 when healthy, he was an offensive force, but this season his offensive production hasn't been on the same level. The Dodgers probably shouldn't give him the contract that he wants.

Late Saturday evening, the Dodgers acquired right-hander Kevin Correia from the Minnesota Twins for either a player to be named or cash considerations. Correia, a 2012 All-Star while with the Pittsburgh Pirates, can either start or relieve. He is scheduled to start tonight against the Atlanta Braves.

The injuries to the pitching staff could have hindered the Dodgers as they eye a playoff run, but the fast thinking of Colletti and his staff to find replacements will probably keep the team among the top teams in the NL.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.