LOS ANGELES -- MRI results on Paul Maholm 's right knee on Saturday showed a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The left-hander will meet with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache to decide treatment, but it's hard to see Maholm pitching again in 2014.
Maholm injured his right knee covering first base on the final play of the seventh inning on Friday night. After several minutes on the ground, he walked off the field under his own power but told reporters after the game he felt something pop.
The left-hander deserves credit for pitching in a role completely unfamiliar to him. Before this season Maholm had started 242 of his 243 career games, and was a creature of routine. With the Dodgers he was a swingman, starting eight games and appearing in 22 games in relief, and was 1-5 with a 4.84 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 28 walks in 70⅔ innings.
In reality, Maholm probably should have been designated for assignment in May. After giving up 10 runs in a loss to the Marlins on May 14 he had a 5.40 ERA with 18 walks and 14 strikeouts, and allowed 71 runners to reach base in 40 innings.
After that Maholm was the long man in the bullpen, mostly pitching mop-up duty, with only one of his 19 relief appearances since then coming in a game closer than down two runs or ahead five. Maholm did fill in greatly with one spot start on July 12, retiring 18 of 20 batters in six scoreless innings against the Padres. He put up a 4.11 ERA in 30⅔ innings after that May blowup start, with 20 strikeouts and 10 walks, but again the vast bulk of his work came in low-leverage situations.
That's not to say this injury is a good thing, not by any means. In fact, with all of his flaws, Maholm was likely the best in-house option for the Dodgers to start on Wednesday against the Angels.
Dan Haren has been in decline for over two months, spectacularly so in the last month.
Red Patterson, who started once for the Dodgers earlier this season, has a 5.70 ERA with Triple-A Albuquerque, and has allowed 23 runs in 22 innings in his last four starts.
Among those on the 40-man roster, Stephen Fife is on the disabled list with forearm stiffness, an injury that sidelined him for nearly seven weeks earlier in the season. Matt Magill has been pitching in relief and hasn't started since May 12.
Zach Lee and Carlos Frias were non-roster invitees in big league spring training with the Dodgers, but neither have eye-popping numbers that scream "add me to the 40-man roster." Frias has a 5.01 ERA and has allowed 10 runs in 13⅓ innings in his last two starts. Lee has a 5.22 ERA and has allowed 13 runs in 16⅔ innings in his last three starts, with only seven strikeouts during that span. In fact, in his last seven starts Lee has 19 walks and 17 strikeouts.
Chris Reed, a former first-round pick, is also off the 40-man roster but has put up a 3.32 ERA in his third season in Double-A Chattanooga, with 113 strikeouts and 53 walks in 130 innings.
So yes, Maholm will be missed.