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Dodgers' rotation concern no less troubling just because it's so familiar

June 19, 2010 |  8:08 am

Ely_300 So if the kids aren’t all right, then what?

Back to the beginning? Back to where this was originally a concern in April? Or was that February?

Back to trouble without an answer.

The Dodgers’ rotation was a concern all off-season, all spring and early into the season.

Then two green kids the Dodgers absolutely had not planned on helping them this year, John Ely and Carlos Monasterios, stepped up and helped right a rocky start.

Only now both are struggling, both having gone south in their last three outings.

Ely, who had never pitched above double-A until this season, has given up 15 earned runs in the 14 2/3 innings of his last three starts. After having not allowed a home run in his first seven starts, he’s given up six in his last three.

Monasterios, who essentially had never pitched above Class-A until this season, has allowed 13 earned runs in the last 12 2/3 innings of his last three starts. After having allowed two home runs in his first 12 appearances (one start), he’s allowed five in his last three starts.

Both are having increased difficulty throwing strikes, staying ahead in the count. When they get behind, their stuff isn’t good enough to simply throw the ball past hitters.

Today, Vicente Padilla returns to the rotation, which at least for now makes him another uncertainty. Chad Billingsley is on the disabled list until June 28 with a sore groin.

Triple-A Albuquerque offers little hope, unless you’re excited about re-signing Claudio Vargas. Charlie Haeger, Russ Ortiz and Ramon Ortiz, all busts.

``We have what we have,’’ pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said.

General Manager Ned Colletti said in Boston he’s trying to bolster the rotation, but that hardly sounds like news. At least Colletti said things have picked up enough that he’s focusing on specific targets.

``The conversations have picked up a little bit, but nothing is really hot,’’ Colletti said.

Colletti reportedly made an attempt to land Cliff Lee last summer and the Seattle left-hander is expected to become available again before the July 31 trade deadline.

He’s the most economically viable candidate, but the Dodgers may not have the high-level prospects to satisfy the Mariners.

Trading for a viable starter could be six weeks off. Meanwhile, Monasterios is probably headed back to the bullpen when Billingsley returns, if not sooner.

For now, the rotation is in trouble. No matter how familiar.

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Russell Martin talks to rookie pitcher John Ely during a game against the Cincinnati Reds last week. Credit: Al Behrman / Associated Press