The acquisition of veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez on Thursday was a clear indication that the Los Angeles Dodgers planned on being without Josh Beckett for a significant portion of the stretch run. That much was confirmed on Friday when Beckett was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hip impingement and a groin strain.
The 34-year-old right-hander has been attempting to pitch through the hip injury for several weeks and it has clearly taken a toll on his effectiveness. Over his past five starts, Beckett only totaled 22 innings while posting a 6.55 ERA. In his 15 starts prior, he was 5-4 with a 2.02 ERA, including a no-hitter. So basically one of the most effective starters in the entire league.
Though his toughness should be acknowledged, Beckett clearly wasn't helping the team by continuing to pitch. It's also possible his groin injury developed as a byproduct of those efforts.
The early word from Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is that Beckett will rest for 10-14 days before resuming baseball activities to gauge if he's making progress. Although MLB.com's Ken Gurnick painted a significantly less pleasant picture of the situation on Friday afternoon.
Naturally, the Dodgers don't want to think that way right now. Until given reason to believe otherwise, they're remaining optimistic that Beckett will pitch again this season.
As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times points out, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had a similar condition two years ago and avoided surgery after responding well to an injection of platelet-rich plasma. It's possible Beckett could follow that track and come back strong as well. Although Hernandez also points out that Kershaw was 24 at the time and Beckett is now 34, which changes the outlook quite a bit.
It's a waiting game for the Dodgers, who even after acquiring Hernandez are lacking in starting pitching depth. Dan Haren was brilliant on Wednesday against the Angels, but he hasn't been a reliable source of quality innings this season. Paul Maholm suffered a torn ACL on Aug. 1, ending his season and therefore removing another possible starting option from the roster.
That leaves Hernandez as the undisputed No. 4 starter. To his credit, he looked up to the task in his Dodgers debut on Friday, allowing two runs in six innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, the bullpen and defense melted down following him and they ended up falling to the Brewers 9-3.
As for Beckett, it's probably too early in the process for him to really know what's next. He is, however, a free agent following the season, so if he intends to pitch and be paid well in 2015, he'll need to be on the mound in September.
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