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Dodgers have to be concerned over Ted Lilly's struggles

July 24, 2011 |  8:08 am

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ted Lilly at a game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press Ted Lilly is 35 years old. This was not a secret to the Dodgers when they signed him to a three-year, $33-million contract in the offseason.

He was getting up there, but was hardly a fireballer in the first place. He was a finesse guy, the crafty veteran guy, the guy who started his career as a Dodger last August by winning his first five games and fashioning a 1.83 ERA.

Which led to his big new contract.

Yet after that brilliant start, he went 0-4 with a 6.91 ERA in his next five starts. Seemed like a caution flag.

No matter, the Dodgers needed starting pitching and were not about to go into the 2011 season lacking a fifth starter as they had in 2010. Lilly worked it to a three-year deal.

Only right now Lilly is struggling, and it has to be of concern.

Overall he is 6-10 with a 5.08 ERA. And few of his numbers are good. Opponents have a .473 slugging percentage against him, fifth highest in baseball. He’s allowed 24 home runs, fourth highest. Runners have stolen on him 23 times, tied for first.

After allowing six runs in five innings Saturday, he now has a 7.47 ERA in his last seven starts.

"I felt better than the results were,’’ Lilly said. "I feel like I’m still going in the right direction and came out of it with a win, so [I’m] pretty happy.’’

Prior to his last seven starts, Lilly had a nice five-game stretch where he went 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA, so it’s not like he’s incapable.

But he’s also been bothered by elbow tenderness, enough so that earlier this month his regularly scheduled appearance was pushed back a day because he was unable to throw between starts.

Age and ineffectiveness make for a bad combo for a pitcher. Particularly one with almost 2½ years left on his contract.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ted Lilly at a game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

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