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Could it really be? Is it just possible the Dodgers actually do have an ace?

July 19, 2010 | 10:45 am
Do not laugh, crack wise or even roll the eyes.

First take a moment to just consider the possibility that the Dodgers actually do have an ace.

And his name is Vicente Padilla.

Right, the guy everyone snickered at when Manager Joe Torre named him his opening-day starter. The guy who started the season 1-1 with a 6.65 ERA before going on the disabled list for almost two months with nerve problems in his elbow.

Also the right-hander on a rather remarkable roll, and almost the only good thing to come out of the mire the Dodgers found themselves in during their tortuous four-game skid in St. Louis.

Padilla looked like a Dodgers’ stopper Sunday, throwing six shut-out innings. Innings that should have been rewarded with a victory, but for that incredible bullpen meltdown.

He has been a different pitcher in the six starts since coming of the DL, and just shy of brilliant in his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 0.97 ERA.

Padilla held the Cardinals to just one hit and wasn’t even overpowering. In keeping with an L.A. rotation theme in St. Louis, he stuck out only one. He walked five, but three came in his final inning, the sixth.

His start was easy to miss in the hand-wringing that followed the collapse and the Cardinals' sweep of the four-game series.
Padilla also threw eight shutout innings in his previous start against the Cubs, and now hasn’t allowed a run in his last 14 innings.

This is a lot closer to the Padilla the Dodgers signed last August after he was released by the Rangers, the Padilla who went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in eight games.

And right now, a lot closer to an ace than anyone else who’s stepping up for the Dodgers.

-- Steve Dilbeck