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Burden of having to be perfect a weight that can crush Dodgers' rotation

May 17, 2011 |  7:07 am

Ll9j3nnc This is a dangerous game the Dodgers are playing.

How long can they hang everything on their starting pitching without the rotation caving in from the constant pressure?

Starting pitching is the only thing the Dodgers have going for them now. Its offense is woeful. Its bullpen has a 4.95 ERA.

The rotation has been the one team strength. As expected, nearly every night the starting pitching gives the Dodgers a chance to win.

Trouble is, the Dodgers are 19-23 despite a rotation that boasts a 3.56 ERA, fourth-best in the National League.

"Obviously we’re putting a lot of pressure on them right now,’’ said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

"We don’t want them to feel like they have to go out and put up zeroes every night.’’

Too late. Way too late.

The Dodgers have lost three consecutive games by scores of 1-0, 4-1 and 2-1. When your offense is scoring only two runs in three games and it almost feels commonplace, it’s more than just a trend. And it threatens to seep into the subconscious of every starting pitcher.

Make one mistake -- like Jon Garland did Monday -- and too often it will cost you the game. The longer the Dodgers struggle to score, the greater the pressure on the starting pitchers.

"You just keep going out there every night and try to give your team the best opportunity to win,’’ Garland said. "It’s silly to think you can go out there and throw a shutout every night.’’

Absolutely silly. It’s a reach to expect the rotation to keep pitching at this high level all season too. Particularly when they fear one mistake will cost them the game.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA

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