Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dodgers' bullpen hit hard by injuries

Kenley Jansen was placed on the 15-day disabled list today, with the Dodgers calling up Josh Lindblom from Double-A and designating Travis Schlichting for assignment.

The top four (arguably) Dodger bullpen arms are all on the DL: Jansen, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Vicente Padilla.

If you had the Dodger bullpen shaping up like this on May 29...

Rubby De La Rosa, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Lindblom, Mike MacDougal, Ramon Troncoso

...I'd like to get the lottery numbers from you.

Lindblom will be the third Dodger pitcher to make his debut this season (De La Rosa, Guerra). With Blake Hawksworth suffering a setback in his rehab, this could be the bullpen for the foreseeable future.

This puts pressure on the starting pitchers with a largely untested bunch of youngsters. Guerrier is the most dependable of the bunch, while De La Rosa has the most upside. So far, Elbert and Guerra have been great. MacDougal's low ERA is quite deceiving and Troncoso is, well, Troncoso (not the 2009 Troncoso either).

We'll see if manager Don Mattingly challenges his starters to throw deeper into games. Clayton Kershaw, who's pitching as I write this, has thrown 84 and 85 pitches (11 IP) in his last two outings. That's not nearly enough for the staff ace (averaging 100.8 per start). Ted Lilly, despite his struggles, has thrown more than 100 pitches just once this season (102 on May 20 at the White Sox). He's averaging 88.1 pitches per start (higher than his career average of 87.7). He could stand to pitch a bit more, if he isn't too busy giving up home runs. Chad Billingsley leads the staff in pitches per start (101.5) and has thrown 100 pitches or more in five consecutive starts and seven of his last eight starts. Hiroki Kuroda is averaging 97.7 pitches per start, while Jon Garland is averaging 92.5 pitches per start.

The rash of injuries this team has suffered is abnormal, but it's the reality of baseball (and all professional sports).

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Zach Lee, making his first start today in three weeks, was roughed up. He pitched 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, six runs, one home run, two walks while striking out one. I just hope he's rusty from the time off. The last thing the Dodgers want to do is rush this kid back -- especially from an elbow injury.

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