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Dodgers' other pitching discovery, Carlos Monasterios, is their most surprising success story

June 8, 2010 |  8:25 am

Monasterios_300 John Ely has been the phenomenon. The gift from the baseball gods. Regular Elymania.

Ely had never pitched above Double-A until this season, so he offered a surprise no one could have seen coming.

But Ely’s success has overshadowed another unexpected pitcher, another young right-hander who has helped settle the Dodgers’ shaky rotation.

Carlos Monasterios.

The 24-year-old Venezuelan is -- or at least should be -- an even bigger surprise than Ely. Monasterios essentially had never pitched above the Class-A level until this season.

That’s some serious jump, from Class A to the major leagues.

"It doesn’t happen very often," said Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "I really can’t think of anyone offhand."

Monasterios was an emergency starter on May 1. He returned to the bullpen for almost a month after that, but now has started three consecutive games. The Dodgers have won them all.

"We found a new pitcher," said Manager Joe Torre.

Monasterios started Monday in the Dodgers' 12-4 victory over the Cardinals. He went a career-high six-plus innings, holding the Cards to three runs on four hits.

Monasterios raised his record to 3-0. His ERA is 2.27. His confidence grows almost by the pitch.

That’s a huge leap for a Rule 5 pitcher who started the season as the last man in the bullpen, the Dodgers trying to use him carefully, to bring him along slowly.

"He came on board as basically the 12th pitcher," Torre said. "He’s a kid we want to keep on; we figure there’s a lot of growing that’s going to happen there. In the meantime, he’s getting some great experience and finds himself in key roles for us."

Monasterios’ success could put the Dodgers in a position that would have seemed almost unthinkable a month ago: extra starting pitching.

With Ely securing one spot and Monasterios maturing by the outing, the Dodgers have five reliable starters for the first time all season. And next week could see the return of opening day starter Vicente Padilla.

At which point Monasterios could return as the long man.

"That’s going to be a pleasant problem if that’s the case," Torre said. "It’s a long year. And the luck part of the season is when you stay healthy."

Monasterios said he’s been a starter for most of his career, but is prepared to do whatever the Dodgers ask.

"I just want to continue what I’m doing, which is to work hard," Monasterios said. "If they give me an opportunity as a starter or the bullpen, just pitch my hardest and do my job."

Honeycutt said Monasterios’ confidence is growing by the outing. Plus he’s expanded what was essentially a two-pitch attack.

"I think he has a lot of confidence in himself," Honeycutt said. "He’s able to locate, and his curveball is slowly getting better. We knew he had a fastball and a change, but now he’s starting to show he can get the curveball over, and an occasional slider. There’s been a lot of positives.’’

One that doesn’t deserve being overshadowed.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Carlos Monasterios. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire.