Sunday’s starting pitcher: Either Dan Haren or a ‘bullpen day.’

CHICAGO >> The Dodgers still haven’t decided who will start Sunday’s series finale at Wrigley Field, manager Don Mattingly said.

“It’s either going to be Danny (Haren) or a bullpen day,” he said.

Mattingly maintained that he’ll wait until Saturday’s game is over to determine who pitches Sunday.

Sunday’s game plan in turn affects the plan for Monday’s home game against the San Francisco Giants. For what it’s worth, Haren has a career ERA of 5.86 at Wrigley Field (five starts) compared to a 3.48 ERA at Dodger Stadium (22 starts).

Dodgers 4, San Diego Padres 0: Tonight’s game story.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford went 4 for 4 and his three doubles tied a single-game team record. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)


Dan Haren‘s ERA is under 4.00 for the first time since June. How did he do it? Click here for the game story and box score.

Dee Gordon didn’t play today, but he is no longer sliding head-first. More on that in today’s notebook.

Tonight’s game story, on Dan Haren’s well-timed turnaround.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp catches a foul ball hit by Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor in the second inning of the Dodgers’ win Tuesday. (Associated Press photo)

The game story is here.

The box score is here.

The White Sox beat the Giants in 10 innings, so the Dodgers’ lead is up to six games in the National League West, a season-high. For comparison’s sake, the Dodgers’ lead a year ago was 7.5 games. They ultimately won the West by 11 games.

Kevin Correia’s Dodgers debut could come tomorrow.

MILWAUKEE — We didn’t bother asking Dan Haren if he was starting tomorrow in Atlanta. His name was on the sheet. There was no reason to expect otherwise.

Besides, Haren earned it. In his most recent start in Anaheim, he gave up three singles, didn’t walk a batter, and only allowed one run in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Angels on Wednesday. His reward: His next turn in the rotation will be pushed back – at least for one day, it seems — by new Dodger Kevin Correia.

“We talked to (Correia) last night,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He seemed excited about being here. As I told him, right now we’ll use him as spot starts, coming out of the bullpen kind of filling Paul (Maholm)’s role, having some length but also giving us some insurance at the starter’s spot.”

When might that spot start come up?

“It might come up tomorrow,” Mattingly said. “That would come up quick. If it would come up tomorrow, hypothetically speaking, during this little stretch of all the games in a row to give our guys a little bit of a breather. Making sure we’re not overtaxing Kersh, Greinke. We know Hyun-Jin’s pitched better with that little extra day.”

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What do the last two games mean for the Dodgers’ trade deadline needs?

Josh Beckett and Dan Haren gave the Dodgers’ front office good reason to question the depth of their starting rotation.

What to make of each of their performances?

Who would be a better pitcher, and do the Dodgers have a chance of trading for him?

This and more for your off-day reading:

http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140724/josh-beckett-dan-haren-give-dodgers-some-trades-to-ponder

Josh Beckett starts Tuesday, and the immediate future of the Dodgers’ rotation.

Josh Beckett

Associated Press photo

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly confirmed that Josh Beckett will come off the disabled list and start tomorrow’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, “barring anything unforeseen happening today.”

Beckett missed only one start after being placed on the disabled list July 8. Paul Maholm stepped in and threw six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres on July 12.

The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding roster move when Beckett is activated from the DL. The most likely candidate to come off the roster is left-hander Paco Rodriguez, if only because he can be optioned to Triple-A and the Dodgers will still have two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen: Maholm and J.P. Howell.

The Dodgers have days off on Thursday and Monday. Will Mattingly reshuffle the rotation?

Dan Haren has lost three straight starts while posting a 9.64 earned-run average. By skipping his next turn, aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke would each pitch this weekend against the San Francisco Giants and next week against the Atlanta Braves.

“It’s not something we’re willing to talk about at this point,” Mattingly said. “We know who’s going to pitch these next three games. From there, we start having some options. We want to make sure everybody knows where they’re going to be so their work schedule goes along with that.”

Chad Billingsley’s season is in jeopardy after MRI reveals torn flexor tendon in right elbow.

Chad Billingsley

Chad Billingsley made two rehab starts for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this season and didn’t make it out of the second inning in either appearance. (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Twitter)

Chad Billingsley‘s season is in jeopardy after an MRI scan Thursday revealed a partial tear of the flexor tendon in his right elbow.

Though surgery is commonly performed, Billingsley is planning to discuss his options with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache in the coming days before deciding on a course of action.

The prognosis for recovery from torn flexor tendon surgery varies greatly.
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Dan Haren has a curious explanation for why he’s better late in games.

Dan Haren

Dan Haren allowed six hits and four runs Tuesday, all in the first four innings. (Getty Images)

Dan Haren has some unusual pitching splits this season, and an unconventional explanation to go with it.

Opponents were hitting .299 against Haren the first two times through the batting order prior to Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss. His performance against the Chicago White Sox was true to form. Chicago scored all its runs the first two times through the order against Haren, batting .294 until the lineup turned over again.

Haren only allowed one hit after that. The White Sox went 1-for-7 in the fifth and sixth innings against Haren. That was likewise true to form; opponents were hitting .222 against him the third time through the order prior to Tuesday.

So, what gives?

“The velocity is kind of up and down for me. I thrown it a little bit harder (recently), which might be a bad thing actually. As the game went along today I backed off a little bit and got a lot of ground balls. That’s something I’ve got to look at, what my ball is doing at what velocities because it might be better for me to back off.”

Haren agreed that he typically gets less movement the harder he throws.

“That’s what I’m going to be looking at. I’ve just got to figure it out. It’s been a few starts now where it’s kind of been the same story. I can’t keep going like this. Something’s got to change.”

Haren hasn’t won since May 12 against the Miami Marlins, a span of four starts. Wins and losses are famously fickle, but the 33-year-old veteran confessed it’s getting frustrating. Though he had a fairly consistent month of May, Haren has seen his ERA rise from 2.03 in April to 3.50 after Tuesday’s loss:

We’ll check back with Haren to see what he gleans from the next video session.

Daily Distractions: A scout’s take on Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

Infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena is batting .136 for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate.

Erisbel Arruebarrena provided a nice distraction during spring training. Reporters covering the Dodgers spent countless minutes rolling our “R”s, trying to pronounce Arruebarrena, figuring out how many “U”s were in the name, and mostly waiting for the 24-year-old shortstop to arrive in the U.S.

When he finally did get his visa and arrive in spring training on March 13, the Cuban shortstop was shuffled to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp. Then the major-leaguers left for Australia. Hardly anyone got to see the kid play baseball.

Nearly two months later there he is, taking up a space on the 40-man roster and $25 million of the Dodgers’ payroll over the next five years. Ever since Arruebarrena reported to Double-A Chattanooga, he’s proceeded to bat .136/.188/.220, which hardly seems to justify a $25 million contract. Was this signing a mistake? Was rolling my “R”s one big time-killerrrrrr?

A pro scout who recently watched Arruebarrena in the Southern League chimed in with this report.

I’d say Erisbel’s current offensive numbers are an accurate representation of his abilities – he has a long/loopy swing, almost like a golf swing that struggles to make contact with any type of pitch. He has serious recognition problems vs. AA-effective secondary stuff, turning his back early & often vs. almost all curveballs/sliders. Those things combined lead to rare contact on mistake fastballs only, or if a pitcher makes a bad decision to throw him the same loopy curveball three times in a row.

That said, him at SS is sometimes awesome to watch; way above instincts, really easy/super-quick receive-and-throw actions deep in the hole or going up the middle with a really good feel to complete very tough plays. He did flash a couple mental errors, like dropping a popup or ball bouncing off his glove with the infield in. Even with the bat how it is now I’d like to have him in my organization, because his floor is first-division middle infield-utility. As he gets comfortable over the next couple seasons in the US I think his feel/baseball IQ will improve a bit/less mental errors on both sides. I see him as a mid-.500s OPS guy but with major league top-5 shortstop defense.

Make of that what you will. It’s the most up-to-date scouting report we have on a player we know little about, perhaps the least known member of the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.

Some bullet points for a Europe Day:
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