LOS ANGELES -- While the Dodgers were successful in shoring up their lineup and bullpen through trades, the rotation has suddenly become the biggest issue for Los Angeles.
The front office was unable to land the frontline starter -- like Ryan Dempster -- that it was seeking, and there are questions as to whether the current rotation will be good enough down the stretch.
"I still think it's a concern," manager Don Mattingly said. "I think we have to pay attention and keep trying to get better. Look at the track record of [Chris] Capuano and Aaron [Harang] and obviously with Stephen [Fife] we don't know very much. We know [Clayton] Kershaw. Does it hold up?"
Having traded Nathan Eovaldi to acquire Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers are left with a rotation of Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Capuano, Harang and Fife as the team awaits the return of Ted Lilly.
Mattingly has been impressed with both Capuano and Harang thus far. He said Capuano has been great for the team, but he's not sure if he can keep it up and fully return to how he was pitching a few years ago. The lefty is 1-5 in his last seven starts and he has given up 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings through his last two outings. He opened the season 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA through May.
As for Harang, Mattingly said the team couldn't have asked for more from the veteran. He is 7-6 with a 3.76 ERA, but in his last start Harang gave up seven earned runs in five innings.
"They are the reasons we are in the position that we are right now," Mattingly said.
Fife has been dependable in his first two starts going up against Roy Halladay and Matt Cain. He allowed only two runs in 12 1/3 innings. Billingsley threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start, but he has been a model of inconsistency.
Kershaw hasn't pitched like he did down the stretch last season, when he won the National League Cy Young Award, but he is still one of the top pitchers in the league. Lilly has said he doesn't feel ready to return yet and Rubby De La Rosa will be used as a reliever this season if and when he returns from Tommy John surgery.
Mattingly said the team was built on the premise of being able to pitch and play solid defense, which has put the Dodgers in the pennant race heading into August.
"If that doesn't hold up, all the offense in the world usually is not enough," he said.