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Daily Dodger in review: Ted Lilly has his finishing act down

October 22, 2011 |  8:17 am

Ted-lilly_600

TED LILLY, 36 on Jan. 4, starting pitcher

Final 2011 stats: 12-14, 3.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings, .238 opponent batting average.

Contract status: Signed for two more years, $12 million for next season; currently highest paid Dodger.

The good: Give him this, he knows how to finish. Much like he managed when he came to the Dodgers at the July 31 trading deadline in 2010, he pulled off an excellent final two months.

In August and September, he sported a 2.09 ERA and won five of this last six decisions.

The bad: Alas, the four previous months were the kind that had fans screaming: "You signed this 35-year-old for three years at $33 million?" At the end of July, his ERA was 5.02, his record was 7-10 and he seemed to think it was required to give up at least one solo home run per game. For a control pitcher who hasn’t thrown a 90-plus fastball since the Clinton administration, that was an ERA to be concerned about. Plus, guys in wheelchairs were stealing on him.

What’s next: More of the same? The Dodgers want the Lilly of the final two months, or at least a more consistent starter. Signed for two more years, he is one of their three current locks for the 2012 rotation.

The take: It’s not like Lilly is suddenly going to re-invent himself at age 36. He is what he is, all crafty left-hander and everything. He’s not going to blow people away, but with that curve, an 88 mph fastball is still highly effective.

Certainly, his finish was encouraging. After giving up 28 home runs in his first 27 games, he did not allow another in his last six starts.

With another $25.5 million still on the books, the Dodgers hope at a minimum he performs like a No. 4 starter. Hardly seems much to ask at that price. They really need him to perform like a No. 3, which he clearly did in August and September.

Now if he can just work on his start. If the Dodgers are really dreaming of turning things around next season, Lilly can’t afford taking another four months to get his act together.

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ted Lilly held the Colorado Rockies to three hits and one run through seven innings when he faced them on May 31 at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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