In a few surprising roster shuffles surrounding the MLB All-Star break, the Los Angeles Dodgers made several efforts to upgrade their pitching—at least until they seal a deal before the trade deadline.
In an unexpected move on Sunday, the Dodgers optioned RHP John Ely to Triple-A Albuquerque and replaced him on the roster with reliever Jon Link.
Ely is 4-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts overall this season; however, he has failed to pitch three complete innings in his last two outings.
Link, who has already been recalled three times this year by Los Angeles, has a 3.86 ERA in five appearances and just over four innings of work.
In a more anticipated decision on Wednesday, Los Angeles placed struggling left-handed reliever George Sherrill on outright waivers.
Sherrill has a 7.32 ERA in 34 appearances for the Dodgers this season. He is expected to clear waivers on Monday, at which time he would have the opportunity to accept a minor league roster position. In the meantime, he will retain his roster spot with Los Angeles unless he is claimed by another Major League squad.
One possibility for replacing Sherrill in the bullpen is Jack Taschner, who was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers in June.
In seven appearances with Albuquerque, the 32-year-old lefty is currently 0-0 with one save and a 3.52 ERA in just over seven innings pitched.
However, the immediate priority is to fill the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation vacated by Ely, and all signs are pointing to James McDonald being called up on Monday to start the home series vs. the San Francisco Giants.
McDonald, who recently added a hard slider to his pitching repertoire, is 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 12 games started with the Isotopes.
If all else fails, among other pitchers, Carlos Monasterios could be utilized in a starter-by-committee scenario, at least until Los Angeles decides whether a trade will be made or a deal with a free agent pitcher will be signed before the deadline.
Citizens of Dodgertown still have high hopes of acquiring a big market starter to complete the pitching staff, however all indicators are suggesting that team finances will limit Los Angeles in terms of making a deal.
In yet another move to make room for Manny Ramirez returning from the 15-day disabled list, the Dodgers placed utility outfielder Reed Johnson on the DL with an injured back.
Manny's return was expected to prompt Los Angeles to make a decision on whether to retain rookie outfielder Xavier Paul, or contemplate the future of veteran outfielder Garret Anderson.
So far this season, Paul is batting .259 with 22 hits in 85 at-bats with the Dodgers while compiling a .308 on-base percentage and a .341 slugging percentage. Paul is also highly valued for his speed, both in defense and on the bases, as well as his strong arm in the outfield.
Anderson, on the other hand, is batting just .178 with 24 hits in 135 at-bats, while registering a .193 OBP and a .274 slugging percentage.
It has been suggested that Anderson may be considered as a potential trade commodity, however it's unclear whether or not any teams around the Majors would have interest in the veteran outfielder.
Nevertheless, with cash at a minimum, General Manager Ned Colletti will be exploring every possible angle to acquire much needed pitching help.
The MLB trade deadline is July 31.