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Dodgers' shaky rotation not doing anything to help out bullpen troubles

April 15, 2010 |  4:10 pm
We interrupt this dumping on the Dodgers’ bullpen to dump on the rotation.

All spring long, Manager Joe Torre kept saying, "We’re only going to go as far as our pitching takes us."

Eight games in, it’s good enough to be 3-5.

And certainly, outside of Jonathan Broxton and Ramon Troncoso -- and with some good moments from Jeff Weaver -- the bullpen has been a mess. Four relievers currently have an ERA of 7.71 or higher.

But all the pitching troubles can hardly be placed simply at the confused little feet of the bullpen.

With the exception of Hiroki Kuroda, the rotation has been a serious disappointment and done nothing to ease preseason concerns. If anything, concerns have been magnified.

Kuroda went eight shutout innings in his start, but in the other seven games no Dodgers’ starter has been able to last past the sixth.

Vicente Padilla, the opening-day starter, has been chased in the fifth inning of each of his first two starters. Chad Billingsley has looked strong early and then been chased in the sixth of his two starts. Clayton Kershaw continues to throw too many pitches.

They’re all throwing too many pitches, or not enough strikes. Charlie Haeger went six innings in his first start, striking out 12, but walked four and threw 117 pitches.

Add it up, and the Dodgers’ overall staff ERA heading into Thursday night’s game was a stunning 5.53. Last year the Dodgers had an overall ERA of 3.41.

No one pretends that average is going to get it done. The Dodgers can tell themselves their bullpen woes will ease with the return of Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo, and presumably with George Sherrill finding himself.

But the rotation is what it is. There’s precious little for the Dodgers to fall back on in the system. They did not go out and add a major starter -- or even a semi-major one -- in the off-season and that could prove a costly decision, so to speak.

These are their five guys. And, sure, it is very early, but they need to step up now and assure followers and teammates they can get it done.

-- Steve Dilbeck