NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have the Untouchable Two at the top of their rotation and are doing fine in the stats and the standings. But with the non-waiver deal deadline looming Friday, they might need to add another significant starter behind Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, the authors of a staggering combined count of 72 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Zach Lee didn't do anything to quell that perception Saturday. The 2010 first-round pick finally made his major league debut, facing the New York Mets at Citi Field after Brandon Beachy flopped in his two starts and was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City. But Lee came up from Triple-A and flopped as well, leaving after 4 2/3 innings, charged with seven runs and 11 of the Mets' 21 hits. Los Angeles ended up on the short side of a 15-2 score.
"Bittersweet is probably the best word to describe it,” Lee said. "It's great to get up here, great to be actually throwing in a game and get that first outing out of the way. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very good outing.”
L.A. still leads the National League West with a 56-43 record, two games up on San Francisco. Despite losing starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy for the season early on, the Dodgers stood third in the league with a 3.24 ERA at the start of play, although it jumped to 3.36 at the end of play.
Brett Anderson, at 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 19 starts, and Mike Bolsinger, at 5-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts, have done OK. Carlos Frias has made 12 starts and appeared in 14 games, going 5-5 with a 4.39 ERA. He has been on the DL since early July with a back problem.
Lee became the Dodgers' 14th starting pitcher this season, a stat manager Don Mattingly downplayed.
"Early on, a lot of those guys, we were doing it by design,” Mattingly said. "We were kind of using that spot to keep an extra bullpen guy or an extra player, so it wasn't that bad. You say the 'Big Two,' but Brett Anderson has been pitching good really pretty much every time out.
"So it's been a solid group of three. Bolsinger and Frias, other than not going real deep into games, have really, for the most part, pitched pretty good and have, for the most part, kept us in games. I know it may seem like on paper that it's been all over the place, but it hasn't been as bad as it looks.”
Yasiel Puig wasn't in the Dodgers' lineup, just resting with a day game ahead. There has been speculation swirling that the lightning-rod outfielder could be outbound in exchange for a starter. But, according to CBSSports.com, he spoke to team officials about the situation during this stop and was told he won't be dealt at this time.
"There's been really no rumors within our inner circle at least,” Mattingly said.
Lee walked the first batter in the first and was down 4-0 seven batters into the inning, allowing five singles.
"I'm going to put this one out of my memory as soon as possible,” Lee said.
He rued his deflection of a bouncer by Michael Conforto instead of letting it go to Jimmy Rollins at short. That grounder went for an RBI-infield hit. But Lee thought it could have been an inning-ending double play and still a 1-0 game.
"I don't think he was that bad,” Mattingly said. "I think he was getting better as he went along.”
Chin-Hui Tsao made it look like L.A. needs bullpen help too after being hammered for six runs and seven hits in two-thirds of an inning. Josh Ravin replaced him and gave up two runs, two hits and three walks in an inning and a third. Both were optioned to the minors after the game.
Lee may also be standing on tenuous ground, considering the Dodgers need to make a move Sunday in order to activate Greinke off the paternity list.
And to think, the Mets arrived with the worst batting average in the majors and the second-fewest runs scored. But they finished with season highs for runs and hits.
Rollins, who homered for the third straight game, had compassion for the pitchers.
"Babe Ruth could have came back and tried to get them boys out, and it wasn't going to happen,” Rollins said. "Not tonight. They didn't really miss pitches. They were barreled loud. Good thing for us, it's only one loss.”