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Daily Dodger in review: The great highs and lows of John Ely's rookie season

November 12, 2010 |  5:48 pm

JOHN ELY, 24, starting pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 4-10, 5.49 ERA, 76 strikeouts, 40 walks, a 1.45 WHIP in 100 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Made six consecutive quality starts May 6-June 1, going 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA. From out of nowhere, it was Elymania. A brief gift from the baseball heavens.

During that stretch, he faced 89 consecutive batters without allowing a walk. He did not allow a home run over his first 50 1/3 innings, the longest such streak for a Dodgers rookie since Fernando Valenzuela went 82 2/3 innings in 1980. He's a dead ringer for Mathew McConaughey.

The bad: After his initial great run, it was all downhill, like a rock off Half Dome. In his last 11 starts, he went 1-8 with an 8.00 ERA. He was finally sent back to triple-A, but did not fare much in Albuquerque (5-4, 6.22).

He was called back up in September, but it was only more of the same struggle. In his last six starts overall he went 0-5 with an 11.01 ERA. It was almost hard to remember that once there was Elymania.

What’s next: A ticket back to the minors. He’s back to where he started, as something of an emergency starter. He was never expected to be part of the Dodgers’ plans last season. He came over from the White Sox in the offseason trade for Juan Pierre, having never thrown above Class AA. Injuries and the team’s failure to identify an effective fifth starter out of training camp were the reasons he was rushed up on April 28.

The take: If the Dodgers even entertain the idea of starting the season with Ely in the rotation, they are in real trouble. Right now, you want him maybe as No.7, at best, in the pitching food chain.

He clearly needs additional time in the minors to become more consistent. He’s a control pitcher who, when he’s on, can be very effective. But his room for error is very narrow, and if his confidence is shaken like it was by midseason, it can get ugly. And his last 11 starts were Charlie Haeger-ugly.

Ely will turn 25 in May, so it’s not like he just picked up a baseball. He needs to take a next logical step in his evolution, sharpening his delivery and revitalizing his confidence in the minors. He’s never going to overpower anyone, so his control has to be spot-on.

Of course, at this moment, the Dodgers only have three starting pitchers, so all things are possible.

-- Steve Dilbeck