Dodgers focus on organization to replace Walker Buehler

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will be without Walker Buehler for the foreseeable future as he recovers from a strained right flexor tendon, which could force the team to trade for another starter.

Buehler was barred from pitching for at least six to eight weeks while he recovers. And once he gets back to throwing, the right-hander will have to rebuild his arm like he was going through spring training.

That will likely keep Buehler through September, assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. With the MLB trade deadline about eight weeks away, the Dodgers may have to decide whether to acquire another starting pitcher just when Buehler could start pitching.

But for now, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club would look to its internal options to replace Buehler, via Southern California News Group’s Bill Plunkett:

For now, Friedman says he’s “focusing on our inside guys” to absorb Buehler’s loss.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson have stepped up this season and become invaluable members of the rotation while pitching to the All-Star level. Also, Clayton Kershaw has just returned from injury and Andrew Heaney could be back within a week.

With Julio Urías, that’s five pitchers to fill out the Dodgers’ rotation, but they would also rely on them to stay healthy for several months. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but the Dodgers under Friedman never liked being short on depth, especially on their pitching team.

Organizational depth options include Mitch White, Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller and Andre Jackson, but it would be asking a lot if they needed to rely on any of them to fill a rotation spot in the stretch for more than one game here or there.

The Dodgers are also awaiting the returns of Dustin May and Danny Duffy from the 60-day injured list, but it’s unclear how effective they’ll be after their respective surgeries. Duffy is also more likely to be considered as a bullpen option rather than building it as a starter.

While the Dodgers will remain patient now, that’s at least in part because the trade market won’t be very active before the August 2 trade deadline. Doing a deal now would require a significant overpayment, especially for an impact starter.

But regardless of their patience now, the Dodgers will almost certainly be involved in the starting pitching market once the deadline approaches, and the rumors should pick up after the July 19 All-Star Game.

Possible Dodgers trade targets

The two most popular starting pitchers expected to be available for trade this season are a pair of right-handers in Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo and Oakland Athletics Frankie Montas, who the Dodgers traded as part of their deal for Rich Hill in 2016.

Other options include Tyler Mahle and Mike Minor (Reds), Zack Greinke and Brad Keller (Kansas City Royals), Merril Kelly (Arizona Diamondbacks), Jordan Lyles (Baltimore Orioles), Jose Quintana (Pittsburgh Pirates), Martin Perez (Texas Rangers ), Drew Smyly (Chicago Cubs) and Michael Pineda (Detroit Tigers).

But as always, other teams will be excluded from the post-season race and other names will be available closer to the deadline.

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