Next Two Games Critical For Dodgers’ Starters

Clayton Kershaw pitched another excellent game last night, but was within six outs of his second consecutive loss when Justin Turner hit an eighth-inning, two run home run to turn around a one-runt deficit to a one-run win. The Dodgers expect to see Kershaw pitch eight solid innings, allowing three hits, one run, and striking out ten, as he did last night. But, what should the Dodgers expect tonight from Dan Haren and tomorrow from Zack Greinke?

After his awful five-game losing streak, Haren came back with two strong games against

the Angels and Atlanta, but then was hit hard by the Brewers. With him currently no lower than the number three guy in the rotation, he needs another strong outing tonight, and he needs to earn his $10 million over the last five weeks of the season and during the postseason.

Greinke has had an excellent year, and it looks like his recent couple of poor outings can be traced to the elbow soreness that resulted in his
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next start being delayed. He pitched pretty well in his last game, but left uncharacteristically early, after only five innings. The empty uniform non manager Don Mattingly says that’s all that was needed, which, of course, remains to be seen. The Dodgers cannot risk a serious injury to Greinke, and at any sign of more problems, he needs to be removed. Elbow soreness is a scary, scary sign, with a major league pitcher seemingly going down to an elbow tear requiring Tommy John surgery and a year of recovery time, on a weekly basis.

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The Dodgers can win the National League West without Greinke, without Josh Beckett, and possibly without Greinke, Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but without that solid trio of Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu, plus some consistency from Haren, there is no way for them to win a seven-game series against either Washington or Milwaukee.

For the rest of the regular season, they’ve already scraped the bottom of the barrel to obtain Roberto “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez and Kevin Correia, and they figure to be pitching a lot of innings over the next five weeks. The question remains, will Ned Colletti need to find yet another third-tier guy to take yet another spot in the starting rotation of the best team money can buy?

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