There’s that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when they’re attempting to bring their ship back from the world of the dead and they figure out they have to capsize at exactly sundown. They’re wet for a few seconds, but when the Black Pearl makes the flip, they come out back into their world right-side up, everyone alive and breathing air.
The Dodgers’ pitching ship was flipped early this season. The bullpen, which was such a source of strength over the previous three years, was inept. Chad Billingsley struggled with consistency and Kershaw wasn’t able to wrangle in the walk rate, throwing 110 pitches per game through five innings. Then Padilla and Haeger imploded.
These were the first three games and the pitchers used:
|V.Padilla, R.Ortiz, C.Monasterios. R.Ortiz, G.Sherrill, J.Weaver
C.Billingsley, J.Weaver, R.Troncoso, C.Monasterios, J.Broxton
Yep, 17 pitchers through the first three games of the season (ironically, against the Pirates).
This continued for a while, culminating in a 5.11 ERA through game 21, April 28 against the Mets. And then suddenly the ship capsized as the Dodgers returned home to face the Pirates.
Kershaw pitched 6.1 very good innings in a loss on Thursday.
Then on Friday, Chad Billingsley’s LOB% (59% at the time of the start) corrected itself when he gave up two runs on six hits and three walks in six innings.
But it wasn’t over yet. Morbidly relying on Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios and spring training invitee Ramon Ortiz to stitch together a full game, Dodger fans groaned at the possibilities. Then both pitched jaw-droppingly well. Hong Chih Kuo dropped in for an appearance and he was brilliant.
And then today, just to assure us we weren’t having a fever dream, Hiroki Kuroda was his brilliant self, tossing 96 pitches in eight innings and allowing one run. He was fabulous. Oh yeah, the offense was good too.
During the series, they averaged 2.00 ERA, dropping the season total by half a run.
After a full month of watching some awful, awful pitching with a sprinkling of decent outings, there was finally some relief.
There’s still a few problems. Kershaw’s walk rate still needs to go down and Billingsley has some work to do. There’s also the question of what to do with Padilla and Haeger. But right now, seeing the pieces that need to succeed succeeding is a pleasure.
Maybe there’s hope for this team yet.