The Dodgers have been besieged by injuries. Although they have a 3 1/2-game lead over the struggling Giants, their trip to the playoffs isn't guaranteed.
Despite not doing much at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Ned Colletti has attempted to fill the needs as they arise, but the injuries have come too fast this past week.
Last week, in a search for more pitching depth, Colletti obtained both Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Both have done well as starters. When the Dodgers acquired Correia from the Minnesota Twins, they wanted him to be the pitcher who could either start or relieve.
But the glute injury to Hyun-Jin Ryu that landed him on the disabled list for the second time this year will force the Dodgers to keep Correia in the starting rotation indefinitely. Manager Don Mattingly hopes Ryu can return from the muscle strain before the regular season ends, but no one knows how long a glute injury will take to heal.
There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the Dodgers' bullpen needs help desperately. At no time this year has the bullpen performed the way the Dodgers expected. Losing both Paul Maholm and Chris Perez weakened it further. No team vying for the playoffs can have bullpen problems, but acquiring a quality reliever at this point of the season is downright impossible.
It has become apparent that the Dodgers don't have an eighth-inning setup man unless they use J.P. Howell. While Howell has become one of the most reliable relievers for the Dodgers this year, he is the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen, so it would be easy for Mattingly to overuse him.
Since Mattingly knows that the bullpen is unreliable, he will have the temptation to use the starters longer than he should. He wanted to go to a six-man starting rotation to give each starter an extra day of rest, but the injury to Ryu has prevented this. Using a starter longer can result in injuries later, maybe during the playoffs or next year.
Brian Wilson has not performed well this season, and the Dodgers were relying on him to be a cornerstone of the bullpen. His control hasn't been good since the end of the abbreviated Spring Training. No matter what the Dodgers have done, Wilson hasn't improved. In deference to him, Mattingly has kept using him in game-critical situations. At this time in the season, the Dodgers can ill afford to use a wild reliever when the game is on the line.
Since August began, the Dodgers have placed seven players on the disabled list. The latest is Juan Uribe. On Friday night, Uribe strained a hamstring, the same one that caused him to miss six weeks earlier in the season. The Dodgers don't know how long the injury will keep Uribe out of action.
In spite of the superior play of Justin Turner, losing Uribe weakens the offense. It is already weakened with Hanley Ramirez on the disabled list. The Dodgers hope Ramirez can return to the active roster as soon as his 15 days ends.
Turner has played brilliantly since coming to the Dodgers. His high batting average and versatility have been an asset to the team. The Dodgers don't lose much offensively when Turner plays, but it weakens the bench. With him in the game, the Dodgers have limited options for double-switches. Since Andre Ethier is the second-most successful pinch-hitter behind Turner, Ethier won't be playing in the outfield much until either Ramirez or Uribe returns to the active roster.
Not many teams can survive seven players going on the disabled list in two weeks, but the Dodgers have so far. However, losing the fun-loving Ryu and Uribe alters the chemistry in both the dugout and clubhouse. It will be interesting if Colletti can find a player to acquire to help the Dodgers deal with the recent rash of injuries.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.