Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Rotation

In the second of this series, I review the Dodgers' starting rotation. It was projected to be one of the best in the National League pre-season and thanks to Clayton Kershaw, it was. However, Chad Billingsley's short-comings are worrisome and disappointing.

Rotation

LHP Clayton Kershaw
21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 9.6 K/9, 4.59 K/BB, 163 ERA+
- Kershaw was flat-out dominant this season. He led the Majors in ERA and the NL in strikeouts, WHIP and H/9. He also tied for the league lead in wins and became the first Dodger pitcher to win 20 games since Ramon Martinez did in 1990. He finally reached Ace status this season and is considered by many the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award.

RHP Chad Billingsley
11-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 1.81 K/BB, 88 ERA+
- Billingsley was supposed to be back on track after finishing 2010 strong. He was supposed to be the unquestioned No. 2 behind Kershaw. Unfortunately, he regressed in every major pitching category this season. His numbers were the worst since his rookie season. Billingsley was a lot more hittable this season, which isn't the worst thing in the world. However, he missed fewer bats and didn't throw as many strikes -- a recipe for a mediocre season. The Dodgers need him to bounce back in 2012.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda
13-16, 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 3.29 K/BB, 121 ERA+
- Kuroa posted career-bests in a few of categories in his age-36 season: ERA, innings pitched (202), wins (13), games started (32) and strikeouts (161). While it might not have been his best season overall, he proved he still has plenty left in his tank. The only question is, will he return? Speculation is he'll return to Japan, but if he does stay in the Majors, he'll be a Dodger.

LHP Ted Lilly
12-14, 3.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 3.10 K/BB, 94 ERA+
- Lilly didn't pitch well for a majority of the season, but a strong second half saved his season. Lilly is a strike-thrower, which is good. The bad thing is he allows too many home runs (28) and stolen bases (35, two caught stealing). His average velocity was up slightly on his fastball, slider and changeup (down slightly on his curve). Could that explain his solid second half? Perhaps. However, entering his age-36 season, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the last time he was this effective.

RHP Jon Garland
1-5, 4.33 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 9.2 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 4.7 K/9, 1.40 K/BB, 86 ERA+
- Garland was supposed to be the best No. 5 starter in baseball. Coming off a solid season in San Diego, the Dodgers nabbed him on a low-risk contract. He had been a sure bet for 190-plus innings since 2002. However, time caught up with him this season, as he pitched only 54 subpar innings. Garland's option was declined and will need to prove he's healthy if he wants another shot in the Majors.

Pitchers who made starts
(Numbers as a starter)

RHP Rubby De La Rosa (9 starts)
3-5, 3.88 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 4.8 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 1.83 K/BB
- De La Rosa was thrown into the proverbial fire and did an admirable job as a 22-year-old jumping from Double-A. He started a little shaky but seemed to be hitting his stride before his July 31 start against the Rockies. He ended up tearing his ulnar collateral ligament, resulting in Tommy John Surgery. He could be back in late 2012, but I might even keep him out until 2013. He's the best young pitcher the Dodgers have not named Kershaw.

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6 starts)
1-2, 3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 4.8 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
- Eovaldi, like De La Rosa, was a surprise call-up this season. He pitched better as a starter than a reliever (small sample size) and his future might still lie in the 'pen, but for now, the Dodgers need to keep him in the rotation. He has a heavy low-to-mid-90s fastball, which is his best weapon. He needs to develop his off-speed pitches to remain a starter, though.

LHP Dana Eveland (5 starts)
3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 1.8 BB/9, 4.8 K/9, 2.67 K/BB, 124 ERA+
- Eveland spent most of the season at Albuquerque and posted solid numbers in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He made five starts for the Dodgers and did moderately well, but he's not really a viable option for the 2012 rotation.

RHP John Ely (1 start)
0-1, 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 5 K
- In his only start, Ely last 5 2/3 innings and gave up four runs to the Padres. Like Eveland, he spent the majority of the season at Triple-A. He's fallen a lot since Elymania, but he could still have a somewhat productive Major League career, but it all depends on his ability to locate his fastball with pinpoint accuracy.

Rotation MVP: Kerhsaw. As if there were any other choice.

Rotation LVP: Billingsley. It's unfortunate, but he was the Dodgers' worst starter this season.

Next up: Infield

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