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Dodgers forced to keep counting on young starters, a predicament caused by lack of offseason movement

June 15, 2010 |  5:45 pm
Hope those kids are going to be OK.

That’s the thing about starting pitchers, you never need just five. You need six, seven, often many more, over the course of a season. Not being prepared for that was the Dodgers’ great offseason failure.

It’s a long season, and it’s hard on pitchers’ arms, elbows and, yes, groins.

So now Chad Billingsley is on the disabled list, and although his groin injury is unlikely to keep him out longer than his 15 days on the disabled list, it still has to be unnerving for the Dodgers.

Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw are their two young hurlers, the ones they were privately counting on to know health.

But pitching can be precarious regardless of age. The Dodgers, understandably, do not want to take any chances with Billingsley’s long-term health.

But with the DL move, it means not only that they're not immediately counting on Vicente Padilla when he comes off the disabled list Saturday, but that they will continue counting on Carlos Monasterios, as well as John Ely.

These are two young pitchers that almost fell from the sky into the rotation and were remarkably successful. Monasterios had essentially never pitched above the class-A level and Ely above double-A until this season.

Both, however, have struggled recently. It’s new ground for both, and the Dodgers will be watching them carefully to see how they respond.

"This is where we have no history," manager Joe Torre said of Ely. "So we’ll find out."

You cannot truly count on young pitchers with such little experience. Anything out of them is almost a bonus. And there really are no enticing starters in the Dodgers' minor league system right now.

With Padilla’s return, Monasterios was scheduled to return to the bullpen, but now will start Friday at  Fenway Park in the opener against the Red Sox. Good luck, kid.

The tests will only become more difficult as the pennant race unfolds. It’s mid-June, and it’s where the Dodgers are. If it feels uncomfortable, it’s the bed the Dodgers made in the offseason.

--Steve Dilbeck
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