|Dodgers Winning, but Treading on Thin Ice|
Written by Matthew Geer (Contact & Archive) on April 21, 2009
Going into the season, the biggest question mark of the team was pitching, both starters and relievers.Â So far, the staff has proven otherwise, by only allowing the opposition to score 38 runs (which is fourth in the Majors).Â And as expected, Dodger hitting has been sensational, averaging 5.6 runs per game.Â But can anyone actually trust the pitching?
Hiroki Kuroda, who was the best pitcher for the Dodgers in the post-season, has already landed on the DL.Â He had an oblique strain and probably wonâ€™t be back until the very end of this month or early May.Â His absence has forced the Dodgers to dig deep in their farm system, which is riddled with pitchers that have had their major league chance but havenâ€™t proven themselves in their chances.Â
Eric Stults was the pitcher that was picked.Â He has been a little shaky in his last two years with the team (in which he only played 17 games), but he has already matched his win total from last year (2).Â
Chad Billingsley is probably the only starter that I have 100% faith in; he will be a future all-star regular.Â
Now we are left with Wolf, Kershaw and McDonald.Â Wolf has been solid so far, but his high ERA in the past makes everyone a little skeptical of him being the third- or even second-best pitcher on the team.Â The Dodgersâ€™ worst SP would have to be James McDonald.Â Three-and-one-third innings pitched with a 13.50 does not look impressive enough for him to keep his fifth spot job from Eric Stults when Kuroda comes back.Â Look for McDonald to go to the bullpen.Â
Now here is where it gets really interesting: Clayton Kershaw.Â In two starts this year, he has a 1.50 ERA, and 19 Kâ€™s, pretty impressive for a 21-year-old.Â I can see this guy as the new Randy Johnson with the amount of strikeouts he is putting out (100 last year in 21 starts).Â
The only problem you may ask?Â His pitch count.Â He has had two great starts this year, but had to leave after the seventh inning and after the fifth inning because of very high pitch counts early in the game.Â Once he learns to avoid starting a batter on a 2-0 count, he will start getting more time, which in turn means more Kâ€™s and more win opportunities.Â
The starting pitching seems like it can hold its own if they try hard enough and donâ€™t get injured or go into major slumps, but the bullpen has to pick up some slack already.
Hong-Chih Kuo was one of the Dodgerâ€™s best relievers last year, but when he picks up the ball this year, he only seems to dig the Dodgers into some sort of hole (which the Dodgers have been able to dig themselves out of every time so far).Â Kuo will have to get out of this funk if LAâ€™s pen wants to be recognized as one of the best in the league again.Â
The majority of the pen consists of very young players -- Wade, Troncoso and Belisario.Â Troncoso has given up a run both times out this year so far, but has been pretty solid, while Belisario looks like Jonathan Broxton by the way he fools people with the heat.Â Wade proved that he could somewhat handle big-league play last season when he came up at the end of the year, but he has now landed himself on the DL.Â Can this threesome of relievers stay solid and maybe replace the struggling Kuo?Â Only time will tell.
What do you make of the Dodgersâ€™ pitching staff?