With Carlos Monasterios joining Chad Billingsley on the DL, the Dodgers don’t currently have a 5th starter. With Monday’s off-day, they can juggle things so that the #5 spot doesn’t come up again until next Saturday (against the Yankees, unfortunately). So who’s it going to be?
Jon at Dodger Thoughts suggests that a bullpen game would be the best course of action, arguing that…
Right now, the best solution for the Dodgers might just be to start Jeff Weaver even if he can only go for two or three innings, and then follow him with a bevy of relievers. And then make a roster move the following day to help rebuild the bullpen if necessary.
Which is completely a fair point. However, with Monasterios out, the closest the Dodgers have to a long man is Travis Schlichting, who – while impressive so far – has all of 10.1 major league innings to his name. So, if Weaver were to start and go 2-3 innings, you’re looking at 1-2 inning stints from basically the entire bullpen, which could be a problem considering that John Ely and Vicente Padilla start two of the three previous games, and neither one merits a whole lot of faith that they’d go deep into games right now.
So what you need is an arm who can be used to eat up a good deal of innings in order to avoid totally destroying a bullpen which may already be stretched, and the Dodgers just so happen to have the man to do it: Charlie Haeger, who (also via Jon) threw six shutout innings today for Albuquerque. I know, I know; he hasn’t done much to engender confidence either. Still, he does have a few things running in his favor, even besides today’s quality start. First, he’s already on the 40-man roster, which is more than you can say for the other inferior options being tossed around like Claudio Vargas and Seth Etherton, so you wouldn’t have to risk losing someone like Justin Miller to get him on the roster. And unlike Vargas, who was cut by Milwaukee just a few weeks ago, and Etherton, who hasn’t seen the bigs since 2006, Haeger has at least had some success this season. I know it seems like eons ago, but we were all in love with him when his dancing knuckler struck out 12 Marlins in his season debut.
Besides, the clock is ticking on him anyway. He’s just about halfway through his latest rehab stint, so there’s only about two weeks left to make a decision on him. Short of coming up with another injury or exposing him to waivers, Haeger was going to have to come back at some point. It might as well be to fill a major need.
Granted, I’m a big Haeger fan and knuckleball supporter, so I don’t deny I’m looking at this with a slightly-less-than objective view. That said, there’s not exactly a ton of better options right now. Plus, as Eric Stephen noted in his profile of Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, Wakefield spent his age-26 year (which is where Haeger is now) split between the majors and minors before spending all of his age-27 year on the farm, and being cut in the spring of his age-28 year. The point is, knuckleballers are notorious for being late bloomers. I’d like to think that if Haeger ends up having a career that’s in any way reminiscent of Wakefield’s, the Dodgers won’t be looked upon in the same way the Pirates are for Wakefield.
Now, if you want to toy with semantics and have Weaver start with Haeger ready to go seven “bullpen innings” just to keep Steve Dilbeck off your back, I suppose that’s fine too. Regardless, this is looking a whole lot like a Haeger game.
I don’t believe this is exactly “news”, but since Buster Olney’s put it out there…
Heard this: The Los Angeles Dodgers and Joe Torre are headed for a divorce after this season. Torre broke off negotiations over a contract extension this spring, and there are a couple of folks in power who are ready to turn the managerial page. Remember, things can change in a short time, feelings can be altered, but right now, it seems unlikely that Torre will be back.
My feelings regarding Torre are well-known, I think. Overall he’s done a satisfactory job, especially in keeping clubhouse harmony during the Manny hoopla, but his bullpen usage, lack of rest for Russell Martin, and affinity for over-the-hill veteran bench players continue to infuriate me. If this is indeed it for him, I’ll look back on these three years fondly, but I won’t exactly mourn his departure.
Credit where credit is due: Garret Anderson has seven hits in his last fourteen at-bats, including a home run. That said, he had two hits in the previous twenty-two plate appearances. I know it seems as though I just despise the man, but that’s really not true. I just want a bench player who can contribute, and Anderson has shown he can’t field, run, or (until the last few days) hit. If he’s found something to fix that allows him to be useful for the rest of the season, then all the better for him, the Dodgers, and us. Let’s just wait until he gets the batting average over .200 before we start to celebrate, as Anderson’s line headed into the Sunday night game is still just .194/.213/.311. Meanwhile in Albuquerque, Xavier Paul is hitting .340/.400/.617, the sixth year in a row his OPS has increased, dating back to 2005 in advanced-A ball.
Update: Apparently, they’re not going to maneuver the rotation to push the #5 slot back to Saturday. I assume this is to ensure that the emergency starter avoids the Yankees (we’re now looking at Padilla/Kuroda/Kershaw for Fri/Sat/Sun). Dylan Hernandez reports that Haeger or Vargas are indeed the two leading candidates for the Thursday start. Obviously, I lean towards Haeger, though as helpfully pointed out in the comments, the Dodgers do have an open 40-man spot so Vargas could be recalled without having to add anyone to the roster.