Dodgers Young Pitchers Cause for Optimism

The Dodgers haven't lacked young pitchers coming up to the majors and making an immediate impact in recent years. It's been getting them to stay consistent enough to stick around that's been the problem. So while the Dodgers and their fans are justified in getting excited about the performance of this year's rookies, there's caution in the recent tales of others who flamed out quickly.

Rubby De La Rosa was wild in the early innings Monday, but he only allowed one run in six innings as the Dodgers held on for an 8-5 win over the Rockies. He's one of those five rookie pitchers who provide hope for a bright future in an otherwise dismal season.

--De La Rosa hit 100 mph on the radar gun four times and 99 mph nine times, and he lowered his ERA to 3.45. His opposing slash line (.247/.330/.376 coming into the start) after the first 51 innings of his career was better than those of Kershaw and Billingsley.

--Javy Guerra, totally off the radar when the season began, had the closer role fall into his lap due to lack of other candidates -- and he's run with it. He's 8-for-8 in save chances, including the save Monday after two relievers gave up four runs and loaded the bases. His ERA is 1.93 through 24 games.

--Kenley Jansen, after an impressive debut last season, had a couple of tough early outings that ballooned his ERA to 11.42 on April 19. He extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings Monday, the third-longest active streak in the majors. Overall, he leads the majors with 14.75 strikeouts per nine innings, and his ERA is down to 3.75 overall.

--Scott Elbert made his debut in 2008, was on the 2009 playoff roster, then disappeared for most of last year with personal problems. He has salvaged his career this year. He's pitched scoreless ball in 20 of his past 23 appearances, holding opponents to a .179 average. He's not just a lefty specialist anymore either.

--Josh Lindblom nearly made the team out of spring training 2009 and 2010, then fell off the prospect map last year with a disappointing season. He was impressive in his brief stint in the majors (1.69 ERA in eight games) this year, and he is continuing his good work at Class AA Chattanooga (2.23 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 50 strikeouts in 40 innings).

The Dodgers have more impressive arms joining Lindblom in the Chattanooga bullpen: Shawn Tolleson (1.63 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 34 strikeouts in 28 innings); Cole St. Clair (0.79 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 31 strikeouts to seven walks); and Steven Ames (1.65 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 17 strikeouts against three walks).

Those youngsters will get a chance -- either later this season or next spring -- since the Dodgers have three free agents in their bullpen (injured Jonathan Broxton and Vicente Padilla, plus Mike MacDougal). Also, Hong-Chih Kuo will be a tough non-tender decision because of his health, increasing salary and a couple of cases of the yips.

The past has proven you can never have enough pitchers because the Dodgers thought they had the makings of a quality young staff recently: --Cory Wade was one of the bullpen's most reliable relievers in 2008, posting a 2.27 ERA in 55 games. He was hurt early in the 2009 season, needed surgery, struggled in the minors, and hadn't pitched in the majors until the Yankees recently called him up.

--Ramon Troncoso filled the void of Wade in 2009, a workhorse who compiled a 2.72 ERA in 73 games. Troncoso couldn't find that success last year, getting shipped back to the minors by mid-summer, and he's spent more time in the minors this year (4.66 ERA).

--John Ely was a breath of fresh air for the rotation for six starts early last season, allowing eight runs and five walks in 40 innings. Then he fell apart, was sent back to the minors, and he's getting roughed up again this year (5.52 ERA) for Class AAA Albuquerque.

--Travis Schlichting got people's attention with four scoreless innings, to get the win in extra innings, after his call-up from the minors last June. This year, his ERA is 7.74 for Albuquerque.

--INF Juan Uribe missed a second consecutive game Monday, and he will undergo an MRI exam Tuesday to determine why he's feeling discomfort in his lower abdomen. Uribe went on the disabled list with an injury in the same area earlier this year. The Dodgers don't think another DL trip will be needed.

--UT Eugenio Velez got his second start since getting called up from the minors, and he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He is hitless in 10 major league at-bats this season.

--RF Andre Ethier connected on his 10th home run of the season in the third inning, jumping on the first pitch from Rockies RHP Juan Nicasio for a two-run shot. He also walked twice and blooped a RBI single to left in the eighth inning that would prove very important.

--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo had another wild outing Monday, which can't help but make you wonder if "the yips" have returned. Kuo walked two of the four batters he faced and threw two wild pitches, including one that hit the backstop on the fly.

--RHP Mike MacDougal isn't going to get much interest from contending teams, based on his performance Monday. MacDougal walked two batters, allowed a single, and had a sure out misplayed by 2B Jamey Carroll.

--RHP Tim Sexton from Class AAA Albuquerque, forced to take one for the team because of a shortage of pitchers, gave up 16 runs on 17 hits in five innings Sunday. Sexton's ERA rose from 5.29 to 6.98 for the year.

BY THE NUMBERS: .388 -- Batting average with runners on base by INF Aaron Miles this year. That's the second-best mark in the majors, behind the .396 average of Detroit's Victor Martinez. Miles, back in the No. 2 spot of the lineup, was 2-for-3 in those situations Monday. He doubled home SS Rafael Furcal in the third inning, grounded out in the seventh, then singled in the eighth.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Rubby's got a nice little presence to him. We saw that in spring training. His presence, or moxie, or whatever it is, he's got a little strut to him. You like to see that kind of confidence in a kid. It's not over-the-top like, 'I've arrived.' It's more like, 'I believe in myself, but I need to get better.' He understands that he needs to be get better. He's been a joyful guy to be around. He's good-natured. ... He's got a smile on his face and has a lot of energy." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the personality of 22-year-old rookie RHP Rubby De La Rosa.

The Dodgers beat the Rockies 8-5 for their third straight win and also their third consecutive victory over Colorado. Los Angeles has gone 3-1 so far on its nine-game homestand and has won seven of its last eight home games. With the win, the Dodgers pulled to within 1.5 games of Colorado for third place in the NL West.

The top of the Dodger lineup combined to go 6-for-13, scored five runs and knocked in six. The trio of Rafael Furcal, Aaron Miles and Andre Ethier combined to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the third with back-to-back doubles by Furcal and Miles followed by Ethier's home run.  

Jamey Carroll and Rafael Furcal both stole bases for the second consecutive game for their seventh and fifth steals, respectively. The Dodgers have been successful on their last nine stolen base attempts dating to July 10.  

Andre Ethier smashed his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning, and added an RBI single in the eighth inning to drive in his third run of the night, tying a season high set of May 30 against these same Rockies. It was Ethier's first home run of the second half and first since his two-homer game on July 10 against the Padres. Seven of Ethier's 10 homers have been hit at Dodger Stadium.  

The Dodgers have won seven of their last eight home games, allowing one run or less in five of those seven contests. They have averaged 6.10 runs per game against Colorado this season, they highest total against any National League opponent. Since the turn of the century, the Dodgers have posted a .673 winning percentage (70-34) against the Rockies at home. 

They possess the second-highest stolen base percentage in the Majors with an 81.7 mark (76 SB/17 CS) behind only Philadelphia (85.2%). This year's club has the second-highest mark in Los Angeles Dodgers history behind only the 1962 Dodgers' 82.2 stolen base percentage (198 SB/43 CS).

  Kemp needs one home run to reach the 25/25 club for the second time (2009). It has only been accomplished six times in Dodger history:

  Dodgers w/ 25+ HR & 25+ SB in a Season — All-Time   
                        SB   HR
Raul Mondesi, 1999	33   36
Raul Mondesi, 1997	30   32
Davey Lopes, 1979	28   44
Matt Kemp, 2009  	26   34
Raul Mondesi, 1995  	25   27
Kirk Gibson, 1988    	25   31
              SOURCE: STATS, LLC