The day of reckoning has arrived for the Dodgers. The day that I predicted and everyone has feared is finally here. Today the Dodgers announced that Clayton Kershaw was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The official diagnosis for his back problems was a herniated disc. That’s very similar to what I predicted which was a bulging disc. The Dodgers did not give a timeline for his return, but they are “hoping” that he returns sometime after the al-star break. Apparently Kersh had an epidural. Brett Anderson had a bulging disc and he’s been out for months. Don’t expect Kershaw to be back anytime soon. Back injuries are serious and very painful. Honestly it’s not surprising that Kershaw finally got hurt considering all of the innings he’s logged.
With Kershaw out, the Dodgers were forced to make a move since there was nobody left in the entire organization that could take his place. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Dodgers have acquired right hander Bud Norris from the Atlanta Braves. Going to the Braves in the deal will be double-A right hander Caleb Dirks, and fellow minor league southpaw Philip Pfeifer. The Dodgers will also acquire minor league outfielder Dian Toscano, and some cash will go back to the Braves.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 30, 2016
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 30, 2016
As far as the players going back to the Braves, that’s not worth crying over. Pfeifer is a non-prospect. So that leaves Dirks as the lone actual prospect going to the Braves in the 5-player deal. Dirks is a 23-year old prospect that was originally drafted by the Braves but traded to the Dodgers last season for international slot money. Dirks was putting up pretty good numbers in double-A Tulsa. The youngster had posted a 1.44 ERA and a 35-7 strikeout to walk line. Dirks posted a 3-2 record and limited batters to a .214 batting average against.
According to the scouting reports Dirks has a lively fastball and is considered to be a top 30 rated prospect. While Dirks is certainly a somewhat noteworthy prospect, it’s nothing to get upset over. Losing Dirks isn’t going to break the Dodger’s farm system. You have to give up guys to get guys.
So let’s talk about Bud Norris for a few minutes. The 31-year old right hander out of Cal Poly State University was originally drafted by the Astros in the sixth round of the 2006 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut with the Astros in 2009 and pitched about 4 seasons in Houston. Arguably his best year came in 2014 for the Orioles when he posted a 15-8 record and a 3.65 ERA. During his career he’s never been a big swing and miss guy. He’s posted an 8.2 strikeout per nine rate and a 3.5 walk per nine rate.
The Braves signed the veteran as a free agent and he got off to a terrible start. He posted a 9.00 ERA in the month of April and the Braves nearly gave up on him. He made some adjustments while working out of the bullpen. He stopped using his changeup and began using a cutter. This led to him putting up a 2.08 ERA since late April, and a 59.2 % ground ball rate. Overall Norris is 3-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 10 starts and 22 appearances this season.
He’s tossed 70.1 innings pitched and whiffed 60 while walking 28. Norris has made 5 career starts at Dodger Stadium and is 0-2 with a 3.10 ERA. Norris has an easy delivery and a fiery temper when on the mound. He is a free agent after this season and is owed about 1.3 million dollars remaining from his 2.5 million dollar contract with Atlanta.
I’ve been very critical of the front office and I will criticize them when the situation arises. However this is not one of those times. With the entire rotation on the disabled list, the Dodgers needed a starter and the dredges of Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, and Nick Tepesch were not going to cut it. Norris has been pitching well and gives the Dodgers at least some kind of viable option. Plus the Dodgers literally gave up nothing to get him. I think this is a move that can work out for the Dodgers. Unless Norris becomes this year’s version of Mat Latos.
Either way there is no way the Dodgers can survive without Clayton Kershaw. This at least gives the Dodgers somebody that can get some outs and possibly gives them some innings. At the least Norris is a somewhat competent starter. Look for him to make his debut for the Dodgers tomorrow night against Colorado.
In order to clear room on the 40-man roster the Dodgers have designated left hander Ian Thomas (I had totally forgotten he was still with the organization) for assignment.