Will rotation woes force Dodgers to be more aggressive at deadline?

The Dodgers are all but certain to add depth to their starting rotation before next Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The question is, will they settle for a low-cost depth arm, or splurge for one of the bigger names in a solid but unspectacular starting pitching deadline class?

To part with top prospects, the team would need to acquire a pitcher they believe is an upgrade over their current trio of veteran starters in Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin.

At one point this season, that felt like a relatively high bar.

Lately, however, it’s a standard that is quickly being lowered — in a way that might force the team to more aggressively pursue its biggest deadline need.

In an 8-1 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, it was Gonsolin who turned in the team’s latest troublesome outing. He pitched only five innings. He gave up five runs. And he ended the day with a resounding thud, hanging an 0-and-2 splitter with two outs in the fifth that Whit Merrifield hammered for a three-run home run.

“I think just the execution with two-strike pitches just wasn’t there,” Gonsolin said. “The homer was right down the middle. I think when I did execute the two-strike pitches, we got good results out of it. But overall, just gotta make better and more quality pitches.”

Like the six-inning, three-run start Urías provided on Tuesday, Gonsolin was clearly lacking his best stuff in the weekday matinee. Unlike Urías, he failed to preserve a respectable stat line, giving up four runs or more for the sixth time in seven outings to raise his ERA to a season-worst 4.25.

“There’s just that next gear that he can tap into,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t know if it’s a mindset thing. I don’t know if it’s a fatigue thing. I don’t know if it’s an execution thing. It’s something that we’re obviously mindful of. I think it’s closer than say the last three or four outings have been.”

Still, given Gonsolin’s struggles, Urías’ inconsistencies (he still has a 4.98 ERA) and Kershaw’s shoulder troubles (the team is hopeful the left-hander will be back early next month, but no return date has been publicly announced yet), the Dodgers rotation is only growing as a major midseason question mark.

In the month of July, their 6.18 ERA as a unit ranks second-highest in the majors.

While it still seems likely that the Dodgers could opt for lower-cost depth options with potential late-season upside — Chicago White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn is one name they like, for example, despite his 6.00-plus ERA — they have increasingly looked like a team that could benefit from bigger names such as Marcus Stroman of the Chicago Cubs, Jordan Montgomery of the St. Louis Cardinals or Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Arms of that caliber, of course, will require a higher (or, in the Dodgers view, potentially inflated) cost in what figures to be a seller’s market.

For reference: The Angels’ acquisition of Lucas Giolito on Wednesday night required them shipping out two of their highest-rated prospects in Edgar Quero and Ky Bush. An equivalent package from the Dodgers, according to one rival scout, could’ve been built around a prospect like Dalton Rushing, plus a double-A pitcher such as Kyle Hurt or Nick Nastrini.

The Dodgers, who swung a pair of smaller trades for right-handed hitters Kiké Hernández and Amed Rosario this week, aren’t rushing to overhaul their pitching staff yet.

They’re still banking on internal improvements from Gonsolin, Urías and some of the prospects they’ve counted on in the rotation this year; a return to health from Kershaw, who had been the team’s best pitcher before getting hurt in late June; and possibly even a late-season return from Walker Buehler, though he can’t afford any setbacks in his recovery in order to meet his goal of starting games again in September.

“We’re looking at our August, September, October pitching depth and what that looks like,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “With the guys that are rehabbing, [we are] being conservative with our estimate of what we expect and factoring that in.”

Still, counting on a Kershaw-Urías-Gonsolin triumvirate to lead the pitching staff into the playoffs is quickly looking like a tenuous bet.

Even when Kershaw returns, the mysterious nature of his unspecified shoulder injury — which was originally expected to keep him out only a couple of weeks — makes his durability no guarantee.

While Urías has been a Cy Young contender in consecutive seasons, this year he has rarely looked sharp in consecutive starts.

Gonsolin’s slump might be the most ominous development of all, with the right-hander continuing to trend in the wrong direction despite a recent uptick in fastball velocity.

“Yeah, results have sucked,” Gonsolin said. “They’ve been what they are. But I’m just trying to stay with the process.”

It puts the Dodgers in a spot they’ve long tried to avoid: In desperate need of a high-demand commodity when trade costs are at their peak.

“July prices are meaningfully higher than at any other point on the calendar,” Friedman said this week. “We try as hard as we can in the offseason to put ourselves in position to not need to do it.”

This year, injuries and underperformance have backed the Dodgers into that corner nonetheless.

And while they don’t want to give up more than they feel an asset is worth, the state of their rotation might give them no other choice.

“Starting depth has been a topic of conversation that we’re certainly mindful of and we’ll see what happens,” Roberts said. “I know our guys are working hard to see if we can add some depth and raise the floor, raise the ceiling, any way you want to look at it.”