Well, well, well, after three weeks of sucking harder than a gay porno, the Dodgers have actually played some good baseball the past three games and not only have they played well during that stretch, they’ve… they’ve… WON!!
But, believe it or not, that’s not the shocker of all during these past three games. Look at this pitching line…
7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.
Now if I told you this is Brad Penny, you would say: “Vin, of course, that’s our ace.” But it’s not him. Nor is it Derek Lowe who did pitch great the previous game. Nope, it wasn’t even Billingsley. Then you would say: “Was it Bret…” and before you even finished that sentence, I would slip you a Lithium to bring you back to reality and then tell you that line belongs to…
Eric Stults. Yes. Eric fucking Stults.
After last night’s starter was unknown for most of the week, Stults was handed the ball and stepped up big time to overcome the Rockies and the abortion of a lineup that Grady Little sent out there (actually, the fact that lineup scored six runs might be as shocking as Stults’ performance, now that I think about it…). In fact, according to myself in the broadcast last night, that was the first time THIS WHOLE SEASON that a Dodger starter has allowed fewer than three hits through seven innings. To also show how dominant he was, not only did he strike out four consecutive batters twice during the game, but he also retired the side in order during six of his seven innings. Oh yeah, did I mention that he also hit a double and scored a run?
In other words: totally awesome. So what does this mean?
At this point of the season, there’s no reason not to keep him in the rotation. With the rumors that the Dodgers are in the hunt for David Wells, if that were true, then he should be signed to replace Tomko, while Stults continue to replace Lurch in the rotation. But there’s something intriguing about Stults that has gone unnoticed. While he is primarily remembered for his big start against the Mets last year, let’s look at how half of the Met killing duo (the other being Hong-Chih Kuo) has done in EVERY start – not counting relief appearances – as a Dodger and you just might be surprised…
September 10th vs. Mets = 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
October 1st vs. Giants = 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
July 22nd vs. Mets = 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
August 17th vs. Rockies = 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
While it’s an incredibly small sample size, he hasn’t had one truly bad start when he’s been handed the ball, as evidenced by his career 2.70 ERA in the starting role. Am I saying that Eric Stults is the team savior? No, he also has a lifetime .203 BABIP as a starter, so he has had some luck and the law of averages will probably increase that 2.70 ERA a bit, but there’s no reason to believe that, based on these performances, he couldn’t at least provide some much needed competency and well… non-suckiness to the back end of the rotation, something the Dodgers have lacked since the injury to Randy Wolf (yeah, remember him?).
Last night notwithstanding, Stults does not have overpowering stuff by any means (his fastball tops out at around 88-89 MPH, or Jason Schmidt territory), but he has shown to have good command and can mix his pitches up well enough to keep hitters off balance. He’s kind of in the Tom Glavine mold, just without the Hall Of Fame career, the 300 wins, World Series ring, Cy Young awards, etc., etc. But Stults has done well in his limited time here and the numbers, and current situation, dictate that he at least deserves the chance to keep his job in the rotation until he proves otherwise. And guess who the Dodgers just happen to be playing in the next five days? Yup, that’s right… the New York Mets.
And, hey, if he can’t pitch:
Eric Stults’ career hitting statistics:
.417/.417/.500/ 135 OPS+
Expect Stults to be shipped back to Las Vegas.