He came here as one of the cornerstones of a championship pitching rotation. He has since been responsible for its demolition.
You never think about him, you hate reading about him and you wish all talk of him would just go away.
But while Trevor Bauer might be long gone, he isn’t going anywhere.
As the Dodgers struggle to pitch their way through an unrelenting stretch of their early schedule — 31 games in 30 days, are you kidding me? — Bauer remains the gift that keeps on taking.
His absence impacted again Sunday even in the Dodgers’ breathtaking, 5-4 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at a roaring and shaking Dodger Stadium.
Yes, good times, the Dodgers were down to their last strike twice before scoring two runs in the ninth on Gavin Lux’s game-winning, two-run double, sending Dodgers dancing out of the dugout to celebrate their biggest win of the season.
But no, troubling times, it wasn’t enough to make one forget the four runs allowed in less than four innings by Michael Grove, the second Dodgers starter making his big-league debut in five days.
And it wasn’t enough to obscure the fact that the Dodgers’ rotation, whose ineffectiveness has led to five losses in the last seven games, is a mess.
It is a mess caused, in part, by Bauer.
Bauer was signed two years ago to provide a safety net for a rotation that included the fragile Clayton Kershaw. So much for that. Kershaw is injured again, and the Dodgers can’t replace him.
Bauer was signed to provide pitching depth in case Julio Urías wasn’t quite ready to be a prime-time starter. So much for that. Despite relentless protests from another Times columnist, Urías isn’t quite ready, and the Dodgers can do little about it.
Bauer also was signed to serve as a possible staff ace in case Walker Buehler struggled. So much for that. Buehler’s velocity is down, he’s had a couple of uncharacteristic bad starts, and the Dodgers’ starting pitching is reeling.
Everything Bauer was signed to potentially fix needs fixing, and his loss finally is being seen on the field in a pitching staff so thin, meet the two minor leaguers. Ryan Pepiot walked five and hit a batter in three scoreless innings Wednesday in Pittsburgh, then Grove gave up four hits and walked four while Lux’s booting of ground ball put the Dodgers in a 4-0 hole in the second inning.
That Lux later redeemed himself with the game-winning hit was a sweet twist of fate that had the ever-excitable kid conjuring up big things.
“It’s good to get a good one and kind of build on that momentum,” Lux said.
Problem is, momentum in baseball is the next day’s starting pitcher, and that’s more than a cliche, that’s a reality, and in that area, the Dodgers have real problems.
They could have shored up the rotation in the offseason, but The Curse of Trevor Bauer put them in financial limbo while awaiting Major League Baseball’s disciplinary actions against Bauer. After they smartly spent their big money on Freddie Freeman, there wasn’t enough left to compensate for Bauer’s loss.
So Max Scherzer went to the New York Mets and Carlos Rodón signed with the San Francisco Giants. Then, to make matters worse, Oakland traded Chris Bassitt to the Mets and Sean Manaea to the San Diego Padres.
Meanwhile the Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney, he hurt his shoulder, and they haven’t been able to patch the holes since.
“We’re not as deep as we have been in my years here,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “We knew that coming in. And obviously we lose Clayton for a couple weeks potentially. Certainly, it’s a blow. But that’s where we’re at.”
Monetary relief appeared recently when MLB suspended Bauer two years for violating its sexual assault and domestic violence policy, potentially saving the Dodgers $64 million. But Bauer is appealing the decision, so they still don’t know how much money they can spend on finding a pitcher, and their margin of error has grown considerably smaller with newfound competition from the entire National League West, which has suddenly gone from the worst division in baseball to the best.
“It doesn’t change the sense of urgency, but I’ll tell you that the National League West is as good as any division, if not the best in baseball,” Roberts said, later adding, “So we need to play good baseball. The sense of urgency, you look at our division, we haven’t played well within our division. So teams we’re supposed to beat, we’re not beating them. So yeah, every game is important.”
Their next games are even more important, the Dodgers hosting the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks for four games including a rare doubleheader.
Their probable starters? Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, TBD and Buehler. Does that sound like a playoff rotation to you?
If history is any indication, Andrew Friedman will acquire another starter or two by the Aug. 2 trade deadline. He always does.
But while that once seemed like a luxury, this summer it is clearly a necessity.
Their rotation requires it. The Curse of Trevor Bauer demands it.