Three days ago, I wrote that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was foolish for remaining patient with young starters Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. I pleaded with Colletti to pick up the phone and infuse what had been a woe-begotten rotation with some new blood. I hinted that now would be the time to cut ties with Kershaw and Billingsley and sell while they still have some value.
Boy, am I an idiot.
The Dodgers have won three straight since that piece was published thanks to some inspired pitching performances by Kershaw, Billingsley and rookie John Ely(not to mention the sudden resurrection of the bullpen). The most impressive of the three was Kershaw’s opus on Sunday, as he out-dueled Cy Young favorite Ubaldo Jiminez to an 2-0 win over the division rival Colorado Rockies. Kershaw went eight scoreless, only walking two and striking out nine. Then came Billingsley, who gave up two but struck out seven in a little over five innings of work in the Dodgers 7-3 over the Diamondbacks. Last night, Ely struck out six in six innings and showed up Arizona ace Dan Haren in a 13-3 dismantling of the Diamondbacks.
Just like that, the Dodgers have climbed out of the cellar and now sit third in the NL West at just a game under .500(16-17). The Dodgers will be looking to go for their first series sweep of the season as Hiroki Kuroda, who had been the Dodgers best pitcher up until Sunday, will take the mound against hard-throwing Edwin Jackson. A win will put the Dodgers at .500 for the first time since April 18th.
The resurgence of the pitching comes as just the right time as the return of slugger Manny Ramirez has made the lineup much more imposing(although it hasn’t helped the slumping Matt Kemp, who hasn’t drove in a run in nearly a week and has three hits in his last five games). The Dodgers are finally starting to look like the contender many pegged them as in March. After the finish up with Arizona tonight, they can put a dent in San Diego’s four and a half game lead over L.A. in the West when they travel to Petco Park for a three-game series. In fact, the Dodgers will get to face the Padres five times in the next seven games as they’ll get a two-game homestand with San Diego after hosting the Houston Astros for two starting next Monday.
If the rotation can keep pitching as if it has a defibrillator permanently attached to their chest and continue to make me look foolish for my premature last rights, they can be on top of the West by Memorial Day. The lineup will continue to improve as Manny heals from his leg strain and Kemp shakes off the doldrums. The fact that they managed to get something from the rotting corpse of catcher Russell Martin is a good sign as well. Another good sign will be the return of leadoff man Rafael Furcal, who is expected to be activated from the DL sometime this week after his two-game rehab assignment. Furcal’s return gives the order speed at the top of the lineup and relieves Kemp from being the team’s only real stolen base threat and allows him to focus on mashing the ball again(or, more importantly, just getting a hit).
Regardless of all that, the Dodgers are back from the dead and anxious to finish off the D’Backs for their fourth straight win. Who knew that some pointed words from a barely-read blogger would rescusitate an underachieving ball club?
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.