Off to Just a Phenomenal Start Here

Hey, everything’s great right now, isn’t it?

* James McDonald got lit up. After breezing through the first two innings of his first major league start, it all fell apart for the kid in the third. Homer, fly out, walk, walk, hit batter, walk, single. While I didn’t see the game, I can be pretty confident in saying that a stretch like that can’t really be blamed on the umpire squeezing you. It wouldn’t be the first time a young pitcher got rattled by giving up a homer (which was the first run he’d ever allowed in the bigs, as well), but you just can’t allow yourself to lose control like that. Like many Dodger fans, I was a big supporter of McDonald winning this role coming into the season, and usually I’d be worried that this one bad start would cause the club to lose confidence in him and bury him – which would be a mistake. But, not only is he not going to lose his job, he’s now the 4th starter because….

* Hiroki Kuroda is headed to the DL. I’d heard rumblings of this coming yesterday morning, but couldn’t confirm them so I didn’t mention it. Fortunately, it sounds more precautionary than anything, and Kuroda didn’t even want to miss his start today. I don’t disagree with the move, because Kuroda’s a big part of the rotation and you can’t afford to be without him for a long stretch. But, still, what a kick in the pants. We all knew that the rotation depth was iffy at best and that reinforcements would be needed, but after just one start for Kuroda? Ugh. At least it’s not his arm. Since Kuroda’s not going tonight, that means…


 stults.jpg* Eric Stults better not prove me wrong
. We’ve been big Stults supporters around here for a while – particularly in feeling that he was unfairly forgotten because of one lousy start last year, after several excellent ones. That said, he was terrible this spring when he had a shot to claim the job for himself, and hasn’t yet made an AAA appearance. Stults has almost no history against the Diamondbacks (1/3 of a relief inning in 2007) and there’s been just three at-bats by current D-Backs against him. Hopefully, that works in his favor, because while you hate to put pressure on the 6th starter on April 11, this club needs a solid start from him, since…

* The bullpen might be in trouble. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds, because much of the bullpen has been great. Broxton, Belisario, and Kuo all have 0.00 ERAs, and Ramon Troncoso was excellent in relief of McDonald last night, throwing 3.2 one-run innings. The problem, though, is that the string of short starts is already overtaxing the pen. Troncoso’s clearly going to be unavailable today, as is Guillermo Mota (which is probably a good thing, since he was awful last night – hey, glad we signed him!), and Cory Wade’s already showing signs of overuse. Stults needs to go at least six tonight, no matter how well he’s doing, to preserve the bullpen. And we really need to see the pitching step up because…

* You thought this offense was going to rule, and so far, you’d be wrong. 18 runs in 5 games just isn’t cutting it – especially when you consider that even San Diego has 18 runs in 5 games, and I’m pretty sure they’re hitting the Chicken 6th. Sure, Casey Blake hit his second homer last night, but it was also only his second hit of the season – he’s hitting .125. Hudson and Ethier both had oh-fer’s and are hitting .250. I hate to even say this, but Brad Ausmus getting 2 hits last night was an improvement on Russell Martin, who’s only manage 2 hits all season. I know, it’s still early, but this was supposed to finally be the year that a good offense carried a questionable pitching staff. You’d like to think that tonight is the night the bats wake up but…

* Yusmerio Petit has owned the Dodgers. I say “owned”, even though I know 42 plate appearances isn’t much of a track record, but in those chances current Dodgers are hitting just .205/.220/.410 – and Kemp, Loney, Martin, and Ethier have a combined 1 hit and 1 walk in 23 of those plate appearances against Petit. Woooooof.

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