In my frustration over the horrendous yet predictable outing by Ramon Ortiz last night, I said that I didn’t know who should start the next time around, but that it couldn’t be him. That’s a little unfair of me; if I’m going to say there’s a problem, I should at least offer a solution, right? Well, in the comments of that post, I got to discussing alternatives to Ortiz and… well, it’s ugly.
First, the good news. The next time the 5th starter spot comes up again is Monday, which is conveniently an offday. So long as Joe Torre doesn’t do something stupid like push everyone back a day and just lets the Ortiz spot be skipped, we can avoid the issue for another turn through the rotation. The bad news is, that spot would next come up on May 29th, in Colorado of all places. So not only is no one beating down the door to get the job, it’s in the worst possible location. You’d think that with well-regarded prospects like James McDonald, Scott Elbert, and Josh Lindblom in AAA, at least one would be worthy of the job, but a quick look at their recent appearances says otherwise. Granted, ABQ is a hitter’s park, but that’s not enough to excuse numbers so ugly that McDonald’s 5.77 ERA is the best of the top four starters.
McDonald did throw five scoreless in the outing before this. But damn, these trends are not going in the right direction.
Elbert’s done a better job at keeping runs off the board, for sure… but look at the walk numbers and tell me that’s not terrifying. On the season he’s walked 28 batters in 32.1 innings. No wonder he’s not getting past five innings.
Lindblom’s interesting, because while his season stats look lousy (6.05 ERA), he’s got a nice 39/14 K/BB ratio. That said, he’s coming off two lousy starts himself (including walking six in four innings), so it’s not like he’s forcing the Dodgers’ hand here.
Ha! And to think I was worried about him getting a callup when I saw the team in New York. What an absolute disaster he’s been; if anything, he should be worried about sticking with the Isotopes, much less making it to the bigs.
The remaining starts in ABQ were split between John Ely, who we already know all about, and Tim Corcoran, who hasn’t been in the bigs since 2007 and has made just three starts in AAA. So there’s no help coming from there, and there’s no one in AA worth calling up (sidenote: all spring, I had my “NRI invite list” on the sidebar, and I’d cross names out as they got cut or shipped out. I could never figure out what happened to John Koronka, who I disliked even the non-roster signing of, and then never heard from again. At the time, I wrote, “Man, he sounds unqualified to even try out for the Isotopes.” So what happened to him? He’s in AA ball, allowing a 1.500 WHIP. It’s time to find a new career, I think.)
Granted: the start is still over a week away, so it’s possible that McDonald, Elbert, or Lindblom rip off a nice start or two and get back in the team’s good graces. Possible, but extremely unlikely, so help isn’t going to be coming from AAA.
That being the case, you’re left with two options. First, there’s Charlie Haeger, who will be nearing the end of his rehab stint by then. He’s been good but not great in his two starts for Inland Empire, and it seems that his “injury” has healed. That said, even I’m not dying to see him back in the rotation, and especially not in Coors Field.
So there’s only one right answer here, and it’s the answer Joe Torre dreads the most. You have to start Carlos Monasterios. The Rule 5 pick has been surprisingly effective as the team’s longman, not allowing more than one earned run in any of his twelve appearances. With the bullpen rounding back into form and Jeff Weaver back, Monasterios’ role as a reliever has lessened, and he already showed he could survive as an emergency starter, allowing one run in four innings against Pittsburgh.
Does anyone really think that Ortiz can outperform Monasterios right now? Of course not. With the limited options, it’s the only right choice – and then what you do is DFA Ortiz as soon as Haeger’s rehab stint is up, pushing Haeger to the bullpen and perhaps using him as a tag-team partner assuming that Monasterios won’t go deep into the games.