Julio Urias pitched over his last hurdle before returning to the Dodgers during their six-game road trip against Colorado and the Royals.
During his rehab assignment with the Rancho Quakes of low-A ball, Urias pitched 4 innings and struck out 15 batters while allowing two singles and a walk. 

Since Urias’ injury, the Dodgers rotation has been patched up by rookies and held together by Clayton Kershaw, who leads the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Rookies Sheehan and Miller seem to have filled the tail-end of the rotation. With Urias’ return, the bullpen will no longer need to pitch every fifth game. Instead, the bullpen can refocus on keeping the rhythm they found after they voiced their problems in a text thread. 

After a rocky start to June, the Dodgers took back-to-back series against the Angels and the Astros. Yet, they find themselves 3 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks and half a game behind the Giants. 

Is losing to the Diamondbacks and the Giants fun?

The Dodgers are swimming in uncharted third-place territory. If the season ended today, the team would be the last wild card team. Based on the team’s structure at the beginning of the season, I slotted them as one of the wild card teams. Third place is too low for my predictions. Losing to the Diamondbacks and the Giants is not fun. 

The baseball world had the Padres slotted to win the division. They currently find themselves in fourth place, nine and a half games behind the first-place Diamondbacks. If the Dodgers hate losing to the Diamondbacks, the Padres must be at a loss for what meme they can use to describe their feelings. 

With two weeks before the All-Star break, the Dodgers need to kick in extra gear and overtake the Giants. The Diamondbacks are continuing their great run, but we’re not here to discuss that. Let’s discuss what that extra gear looks like for the Dodgers because it’s not fun losing to the Giants. 

Starting Rotation

Dave Roberts needs to stop relying on the bullpen, and the starting rotation needs to start doing its job. It isn’t sustainable to take a starting pitcher out early into a game and hope the bullpen will keep them in. Clearly, the Dodgers will be looking for a starting pitcher before the trade deadline. The rotation needs it in order to keep pace with the Diamondbacks and overtake the Giants.

After hitting the panic button on the bullpen, the pitchers found their rhythm and have pitched excellently since getting swept by the Giants.

Noah Syndergaard is right behind Urias in making a comeback to the rotation. His numbers are not the kind of statistics that a fan hopes to get back into the rotation. Syndergaard is pitching as well as anyone hoping to get traded in a salary dump. Even if his contract is just a one-year deal, Syndergaard is a disposable player. 

The rookies need to keep pitching to their expectations. Kershaw needs to continue to carry the team on his back, hopefully with the help of Urias as the Robin to Kershaw’s Batman. If the Dodgers want to reach the playoffs, their starting rotation needs to start a text thread to voice out their frustration. 

It worked for the bullpen. Just think of the kind of pitcher Syndergaard can be if he voiced his frustration to actual people and not just have them ruminate in his head? This kind of groundhog cycle isn’t healthy for fans to defend. Things need to change with the pitching in order to overtake the Giants. 

Keep Playing With Swagger

The Dodgers cannot worry about the opponents; that job is reserved for the fans. Players and management need to worry about themselves. Mookie needs to continue playing with the swagger that he is currently showing.

Freedman needs to continue playing shake and bake partners with Mookie. Smith needs to continue playing his signature brand of baseball.

This is the only way it is going to be fun losing to the Diamondbacks but not the Giants. The Dodgers just need to worry about themselves. 
However, trading for a Japanese superstar won’t hurt the team’s swagger.

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