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    Dodgers’ Michael Grove takes his lumps in lopsided loss to Reds
    • July 31, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Lance Lynn is a large man, listed at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, But he doesn’t seem large enough to fill the gaping hole in the Dodgers’ starting rotation.

    While pitchers Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery were changing teams and the New York Mets were looking for somewhere to offload Justin Verlander and his hefty contract, the Dodgers’ glaring need was on full display once again.

    Rookie right-hander Michael Grove gave up three runs in the first inning, three home runs in the next two innings and the Dodgers lost to the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 Sunday afternoon.

    The trade deadline (3 p.m. PT Tuesday afternoon) will have passed by the time the Dodgers take the field again Tuesday night. So far, they have nibbled at the edges of their roster, acquiring Kike’ Hernandez and Amed Rosario to help the offense against left-handed pitching, Joe Kelly to bolster the bullpen and Lynn to help a rotation that looks far from October-ready.

    “I think I’ve been very candid in saying that we always have room to improve on the pitching side,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So we’re gonna go with who we have until we have more — when and if we do. That’s kind of the mindset that we have.”

    Lynn will make his Dodgers debut on Tuesday. Clayton Kershaw, meanwhile, won’t return from the Injured List for at least another week. Roberts said Kershaw will throw to hitters in a simulated-game setting again on Thursday, pushing his return back until the series in Arizona (August 8-9) at least.

    “Help is always good, I guess,” Dodgers catcher Will Smith said of the potential for more moves before the deadline. “But I think our starters are better than what we’ve probably shown numbers-wise.”

    The numbers are not pretty. The Dodgers have lost five of their past seven games (four of six on this homestand), giving up 46 runs in the seven games and trailing by multiple runs at some point in six of the seven.

    “I think just kind of finding ourselves behind the 8-ball to start sometimes makes it a little insurmountable. Today that was the case,” Roberts said.

    “Just getting a good quality start at times has been a little difficult.”

    Grove was left in to take his lumps on behalf of the pitching staff for six innings Sunday, allowing eight runs on 10 hits in that time — while setting career-highs in pitches thrown (96) and strikeouts (10). That brought July to a close for a starting rotation that posted a 6.18 ERA in 23 games during the month.

    “That’s a big number as far as ERA. Not sustainable,” Roberts said.

    A big number, indeed.

    According to statistician Sarah Langs, that is the highest for any month since the team moved to Los Angeles, the second-highest for any month in franchise history (minimum 15 games).

    In other lump news – Smith left Sunday’s game early after being hit in the left elbow by a pitch. X-rays were negative and Smith said he expects to play Tuesday.

    J.D. Martinez presents a more troubling problem. He was removed for a pinch-hitter before his first at-bat Sunday, still struggling with a left hamstring issue that also sidelined him for two games earlier in the week. He was expected to get an MRI, Roberts said.

    “Something to the groin area. I’m sure the back is connected. Hips, all that kind of stuff,” Roberts said of Martinez who spent time on the Injured List with a back injury earlier this season. “He couldn’t run (Sunday), couldn’t really swing the bat. I don’t know the answer (about how long he might be out).”

    An offense that averaged 5.8 runs per game during July was unproductive without three of its four All-Stars – Mookie Betts missed his second consecutive game with an injured ankle. The Dodgers had just five hits against Reds starter Graham Ashcraft and didn’t get a runner past second base after the fourth inning.

    It didn’t matter by then.

    The first four Reds batters reached base against Grove. Three of them scored, putting the Dodgers in a quick 3-0 hole. Elly De La Cruz took Grove very deep (418 feet) in the second inning. Matt McLain and Joey Votto hit home runs in the third.

    Votto would have had a two-homer day but center fielder James Outman leapt up and reached over the wall to rob him in the fifth inning.

    “I think in spurts there were some good pitches today,” Grove said. “My slider was good but my cutter wasn’t. I got punished because I was leaving pitches over the plate.”

    Grove had added the cut fastball to his repertoire recently as a way to attack left-handed hitters with a pitch in on their hands. Lefties De La Cruz, Votto, Jake Fraley and T.J. Friedl were responsible for a lot of the damage against Grove Sunday.

    “I was just leaving it over the plate,” Grove said. “It wasn’t sharp, especially against these guys who hit the ball well on the inner half. So you’ve really got to get it in there to be effective and I didn’t so I got punished for it.”

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    ​ Orange County Register