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By Jon Weisman
Teams don’t win or lose, organizations do.
Maybe that’s just a matter of semantics, but the point is, every aspect of your organization, top to bottom, plays a role in the fortunes of the team. And sometimes, you need the bottom to carry the top. Or, depending on your point of view, the middle.
That’s what the Dodgers face right now, given the possibility that Zack Greinke will become the fifth Dodger starting pitcher sidelined for at least the short term, following Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
And yes, I think it’s important to include Billingsley in these lists, because when the season began, he was considered likely to be in the rotation in the second half of 2014, certainly more likely than Beckett or Maholm.
Here’s the latest on Greinke from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Greinke is only a “possibility” to make his scheduled start on Thursday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Tuesday night’s 8-6 win over the Padres.
Greinke has been dealing with a tender elbow for the past three weeks, bypassing regular bullpen sessions to throw on flat ground, which puts less of a strain on the arm.
Mattingly would not elaborate on Greinke’s condition or who might replace him, although the Dodgers have few options besides rookie Carlos Frias, who pitched four innings in relief of Dan Haren on Sunday. …
If Greinke misses a start, that would mean each of the Dodgers’ six primary starting pitchers this season has missed at least one turn in the rotation, although Haren’s was outwardly labeled a rest stop.
And so the Dodgers have needed to step up in other places. They’ve made trades to bring in Kevin Correia (who was rocked for three runs before retiring a batter Tuesday, then held San Diego to one run over his next 19 batters) and Roberto Hernandez. They called up Stephen Fife and Red Patterson early in the season and now perhaps will use Frias as a starter as well.
About the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is a sustained turn in the rotation from a minor-leaguer, in part because someone like 2011 first-round pick Zach Lee, who turns 23 next month, hasn’t come on the fast track. Not that he’s been slow. Lee had made midseason leaps to the next level in 2011 (high school to Single-A Great Lakes) and 2012 (High-A Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Chattanooga) before spending full seasons at Chattanooga in 2013 and, up to now, Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.
Lee has struggled somewhat predictably in his first Pacific Coast League season (a league Clayton Kershaw bypassed on his way up). It would be nice to see the Dodgers get a youthful infusion in their rotation, but the timing might not be right for Lee. Maybe it will be the 24-year-old Frias, who retired the final 12 batters he faced in long relief Sunday after allowing a solo home run.
Happiest of all would be if Greinke wakes up healthy this morning or the next. But if someone takes Greinke’s turn Thursday, that pitcher will be the Dodgers’ No. 11 or No. 12 starter this season. You’re not expecting someone like that to dominate; you’re hoping he keeps you in the game enough for your offense to step up, as it did Tuesday, behind Carl Crawford’s three singles, walk and home run and the pairs of doubles from both Matt Kemp and Justin Turner. One player acquired by trade, one player acquired through the draft, one player a savvy pickup by the front office from the discard pile. Because, like we said, you win or lose with your entire organization.