Rotation woes leave Los Angeles Dodgers looking for answers

LOS ANGELES -- The patchwork was not going to hold up forever. The back of the Los Angeles Dodgers' mostly good rotation has unraveled in the matter of a few days, although the process started last month with Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias struggling to hang on through spots of effectiveness.

On Sunday both pitchers hit their latest snags. Frias started the day by landing on the disabled list because of a strained muscle in his back, forcing the Dodgers to pull up Eric Surkamp from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Manager Don Mattingly refused to name Surkamp the starter for Monday -- Frias' turn -- but the left-handed Surkamp is 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last four minor league starts.

Bolsinger followed up Frias' roster move with one of his worst outings of the season, allowing four runs on nine hits in just five innings. The eventual result was the New York Mets taking an 8-0 win to capture the series Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Over Bolsinger's last five starts, he has a 4.79 ERA and only once has he pitched beyond the fifth inning, recording one out in the sixth on June 19.

Clearly the last two spots in the rotation are a cause for concern right now.

"Like anything else you look at what's going on, realistically," Mattingly said, "and see where you're at with it.

"Those guys have really kept us in games. They've taxed the bullpen a little bit, but they've kept us in games. That's why we're now trying to get those guys separated a little bit so we can manage those innings better."

The Dodgers plan to break up Frias and Bolsinger in the rotation with Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke. Part of the reason is to save the bullpen since Bolsinger and Frias -- and now assuming whoever starts Monday -- are not getting deep into games. Another reason is so the Dodgers can avoid back-to-back stinkers in the rotation if Bolsinger and Frias, who had a 5.40 ERA in his last eight starts before hitting the DL, fail to improve.

Mattingly said he thinks Bolsinger has had some bad luck recently by getting food poisoning before his previous start in Arizona and having a bloop hit and a ball off an umpire get this outing off to a bad start. He also said the time on the DL will help Frias rest and hopefully return in an effective capacity.

But the reality of the situation is neither Bolsinger nor Frias should be long for a rotation job. They have gotten the ball because of season-ending injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, and while they have each turned in solid outings at times, the gas gauge looks to be approaching empty for each right-hander.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are presumably active on the pitching trade market, but until they pull the trigger on their first in-season blockbuster move, the Dodgers have to solve their back-end rotation problems.

That could mean Brandon Beachy, coming off two Tommy John surgeries, is brought into the fold. Beachy has made four minor league starts this year and has posted a 1.42 ERA, although he is not completely stretched out yet. Assuming he makes two more starts before the All-Star break, when Beachy will hit the 30-day limit on his rehab assignment and will be stretched to around 90 pitches, he could join the team after the break.

Until then, the Dodgers have to hope the back of their rotation holds up for another week without causing further damage.