Posted on July 31, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers took their sweet time but managed to do some serious damage before the MLB trade deadline. Just under the wire, the Dodgers were able to pull off three separate trades to greatly enhance their pitching staff. The headliner is Los Angeles acquiring starting pitcher Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. However, the Dodgers also acquired a pair of left-handed relievers: Tony Watson from the Pirates and Tony Cingrani from the Reds.
Typically, a team with an eight-game winning streak and 14 game lead atop their division isn’t looking to make a big splash before the deadline. But the Dodgers are desperately seeking postseason success with a World Series drought that goes back to 1988. The flurry of trades pulled off just before the deadline prove that the Dodgers are all-in this season.
With Darvish, the Dodgers have strengthened an already powerful rotation. Of course, the caveat is that ace Clayton Kershaw is expected to miss 4-6 weeks because of a back injury. Los Angeles is hopeful Kershaw will be able to return in early September. But the acquisition of Darvish gives the Dodgers more rotation depth and another proven starter just in case Kershaw doesn’t return as expected.
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Of course, Darvish is having arguably the worst season of his big league career. In 22 starts, he’s 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA. He’s also had great struggles recently, posting a 7.20 ERA in the month of July. Nevertheless, Darvish is a proven commodity who can help fill out the back end of the Los Angeles rotation. The Dodgers will not be looking to Darvish to be their ace. Even if Kershaw doesn’t return, the Dodgers are getting excellent seasons from lefties Rich Hill and Alex Wood.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have also given their bullpen a boost with the additions of Watson and Cingrani, despite not getting the high-end targets they coveted like Zack Britton or Brad Hand. Of course, the Los Angeles bullpen already leads the National League in both wins and ERA behind another brilliant campaign from closer Kenley Jansen. But the Dodgers are leaving nothing to chance in their quest to win a World Series.
Watson has spent time as Pittsburgh’s closer over the past two seasons. But he’s been much more effective in a setup role. By his standards, he’s having a down year, posting a 3.66 ERA with seven blown saves. But he adds depth to the Los Angeles bullpen from the left side.
Also like Watson, Cingrani is having a down season after serving as a closer last year. However, his experience pitching late in games will prove valuable to the Dodgers down the stretch and in the postseason.
The Dodgers may not even call upon Watson and Cingrani to be their primary setup men. The likes of Pedro Baez, Luis Avilan, and Josh Fields have all had impressive seasons setting up for Jansen. Adding Watson and Cingrani to that group could give the Dodgers the deepest bullepn in baseball.
The price to acquire these three pitchers was steep but not unreasonable for the Dodgers. Los Angeles parted with infield prospects Willie Calhoun and Brendon Davis and pitching prospect A.J. Alexy to land Darvish. Calhoun is the club’s no. 4 ranked prospect, according to MLB.com., but he was not one of their untouchable prospects. Pitching prospect Angel German and infield prospect Oneil Cruz were sacrificed to land Watson. Scott Van Slyke and prospect Henrik Clementina went to the Reds for Cingrani.
With the additions of Darvish, Watson, and Cingrani, the Dodgers have firmly announced themselves as favorites in the National League this year. Los Angeles has a deeper rotation and deeper bullpen than almost any team in baseball following Monday’s deals. With the trade deadline now passed, there’s no doubt that the Dodgers are serious about winning a World Series in 2017.