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Starting pitching no longer beats at the heart of Dodgers

April 28, 2010 |  3:37 pm
Band-Aids, duct tape, chicken wire, Super Glue.

Journeymen, rejects, reclamation free agents, untested rookies.

The common threat to the Dodgers’ rotation.

Once the pride of the organization, at the core of what made the Dodgers great, now a looming black hole on their season.

A piecemeal group of hurlers that goes from pretty good (Hiroki Kuroda), to promising (Clayton Kershaw), to inconsistent (Chad Billingsley), to injured (Vicente Padilla), to reaching (Charlie Haeger), to recycled (Ramon Ortiz), to drafted from another team’s farm system (Carlos Monasterios), to barely out of double-A (John Ely).

The Phillies are not shaking. Neither is the National League West.

The staff earned-run average is 5.11, 26th in the major leagues. Its 98 walks are the second highest in baseball. It dazzles no one.

And the thing is, there is no reason to believe it will change anytime soon. At least not dramatically. General Manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday, before the Dodgers were swept by the Mets, not to expect immediate help via a trade or a signing.

Which leaves Joe Torre with this patchwork concoction. The new favorite for his fifth starter is TBA.

Poor Ely, 24, did what he could Wednesday. Having pitched his first three games above double-A only this month, it wasn’t like the Dodgers could have expected much. He went six semidecent innings, which sounded about right.

It’s what they’ve been reduced to, and none of it should come as a surprise. The team had the quietest of offseasons. Everyone knew a front-line starter was needed, but none was coming. Innings-eating Randy Wolf, however, was going.

The rotation lacked depth from the moment camp opened. The Dodgers went through a collection of cross-your-fingers types just to fill the fifth spot. Behind the starting five, cardboard cutouts.

The way pitchers suffer arm problems, needing more than five starters was inevitable. Three weeks into the season, and they’ve already been exposed.

Middle relief is a real problem, but it begins with starting pitching. Once the team beacon, now a dark void.

-- Steve Dilbeck