Dana Eveland was once a part of that future, but now he's a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Eveland looks for his third consecutive victory when the Dodgers host his former team in the opener of a four-game set Thursday night.
The Pirates (67-82) fell 3-2 to St. Louis on Wednesday, guaranteeing a 19th consecutive season with a sub-.500 finish, extending their own major league record. They led the NL Central by one-half game on July 20, but have gone 16-38 since to drop far out of contention.
It was a long time since Eveland (2-0, 0.60 ERA) had won a major league game until he faced the Pirates on Sept. 1.
The left-hander allowed one run and six hits in eight innings of the Dodgers' 6-4 victory at Pittsburgh, earning his first win since May 6, 2010, while with Toronto.
Now pitching for his sixth team since 2005, Eveland spent the end of last season with the Pirates, posting an 8.38 ERA in two relief appearances and one start. He followed up his Los Angeles debut with an even better performance Saturday, allowing three hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory over San Francisco.
Looking to win three straight starts for the first time in his career, Eveland will be opposed by a pitcher who hasn't won in more than a year - Pittsburgh's Ross Ohlendorf (0-2, 8.03).
Ohlendorf is winless in 15 starts dating back to his last victory July 2, 2010, and he's lasted four innings or less in three of his six starts this season. He allowed six runs and 10 hits in two innings of a 13-4 loss to Florida on Friday.
The right-hander, who has battled shoulder problems for much of 2011, is tied with Cincinnati's Dontrelle Willis for the longest active winless streak in the majors.
At least, home plate umpire Bill Welke thought so.
Welke ejected Kershaw for hitting Parra on the elbow. Welke wasted no time, quickly heaving Kershaw immediately after the pitch hit Parra. Kershaw, catcher Rod Barajas and manager Don Mattingly argued to no avail. Mattingly was ejected as well, but the Dodgers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks.
"I'm not disappointed at all," Kershaw said. "We got a win. It was awesome. The bullpen picked me up. It was awesome. I wish I didn't have to give them four innings. But (Josh) Lindblom was awesome. It was huge. Big team win tonight and I'm thankful for it."
The quick ejection was based on the previous night.
Actually, it goes back to July 31. On that day, Parra hit a home run off Hong-Chih Kuo and admired it, perhaps a little longer than Kuo and the Dodgers would have liked.
Then on Tuesday, Kuo faced Parra and threw a pitch up and in as Parra was squaring to bunt. Perhaps the ball got away from Kuo. After all, he's had little idea where the ball is going for most of the year and has battled a case of the yips. Clearly, Parra thought it was intentional.
Later in the at-bat, Parra hit another home run off Kuo, and he admired it even longer. He looked at Kuo as he rounded first base. As he crossed home, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis had strong words for Parra.
From the Dodgers' dugout, Kershaw was the most livid. He was screaming in the direction of Parra and the Diamondbacks' dugout. The normally mild-mannered Kershaw appeared to be saying, if you read lips, something like "let's go" or "right now."
So clearly, there was tension entering the game and the umpires were paying close attention. Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, now a baseball executive in charge of umpires, talked to Mattingly before the game.
Crew chief Tim Tschida said the teams were not warned before the game, but Arizona starter Daniel Hudson said the pitchers were on notice.
Parra was down 0-2 in his first at-bat. Kershaw missed high and a little inside for ball two, and then Parra hit a double into the left-center gap on a 2-2 pitch.
That was the only baserunner Kershaw had allowed when he faced Parra for the second time, in the sixth inning. The first pitch was a strike. The second pitch nailed Parra just above the elbow.
Those who think it was intentional would note that Kershaw had qualified for the victory by that point.
"I didn't mean to (hit him)," Kershaw said. "First at-bat, I threw him away and he hit a double. The next at-bat, I have to pitch him in. It's just unfortunate, in my opinion. It's just too strict. Bill is back there trying to make sure everything is OK. I understand that he's got a job to do. But pay attention to the game and understand what's going on a little better."
The Dodgers' bullpen bailed out Kershaw with four innings to allow him to win his 19th game, tied with Ian Kennedy for most in the National League. Kershaw now leads the league in the pitchers' Triple Crown categories.
Earlier in the day, Roy Halladay threw a six-hit shutout to win his 18th game and temporarily took over the ERA lead at 2.34 for the year.
Johnny Cueto lowered his ERA to 2.31 with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, also temporarily taking over the league lead. But he left the game early with a strained muscle in his upper right back. With only 156 innings, Cueto might not qualify for the ERA title if the injury lingers.
Kershaw's five scoreless innings lowered his ERA to 2.30, making him the third different ERA leader of the day. Kershaw struck out five and has 236 for the season, also No. 1.
Will that add up to a Cy Young award?
"He makes a pretty good case for himself every time out," Mattingly said. "If not the best pitcher in baseball or in the NL this year, he's got to be right there. You really can't get much better than the way he's thrown the ball."
RHP Kenley Jansen gave up two hits, which he hadn't done in an outing since May 23. He also gave up a run, which is rare. But he also struck out the side and recorded his fourth save of the season. Jansen has 83 strikeouts in 48 innings, an average of 15.6 per nine innings.
CF Matt Kemp drove in a run for the third consecutive game with an RBI single in the first inning. He later walked in the eighth and stole his 39th base of the season. That put him in position to score on Aaron Miles' single, which proved to be the difference in the game. Kemp's 110 RBI are two behind Ryan Howard's 112. He's at 99 runs scored, too.
RF Andre Ethier underwent a 35-minute arthroscopic procedure Wednesday to clean up the wear and tear behind his right kneecap. The surgery went as expected, and Ethier will begin his rehab within a week. The rehab will take place in Arizona, and he is expected to need 6-8 weeks to recover.
LHP Clayton Kershaw learned, with near certainty, when his first start of 2012 will be—since he'll no doubt be the Dodgers' Opening Day starter. The Dodgers/Kershaw will open at San Diego on April 5, 2012.
LHP Chris Reed, the Dodgers' first-round pick in June, allowed one run in five innings Tuesday as high-A Rancho Cucamonga was defeated 1-0 by Lake Elsinore and eliminated from the Cal League playoffs. Reed, a late signee, is being converted from closer at Stanford to starter. The five innings was a season high, and he struck out seven.
By The Numbers: 225,000—Amount per month, in dollars, that Frank McCourt will continue paying his ex-wife Jamie McCourt in spousal support. Attorneys negotiated a deal so the additional $412,159 in mortgages from six homes and a condominium will come from an account created after the sale of a home near the Playboy Mansion. The couple plans to sell additional property as well. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said that until the Dodgers are out of bankruptcy, the team can't be sold. The court case to determine whether the team is Frank's or community property will take place during the 2012 season.
Quote To Note: "He looks like he's starting to relax a little bit. Hits always help. You get a couple hits you just feel better, and that's what you're looking for with Jerry and all the young guys. You want them to take that breath. … Sometimes it's probably good for them to get a little tired and battle when they're not all jacked up, when they can just relax and play." —Manager Don Mattingly, on the improved hitting of rookie Jerry Sands. Upon his return from the minors, Sands was 1-for-14. Since then, he had three hits Monday, reached base all four times Tuesday, and went 1-for-4 Wednesday.
RF Andre Ethier (sore right knee) was shut down for the season Sept. 8. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 14 and figures to need about 6-8 weeks of rehab. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch June 25, and he was shut down from throwing. He was cleared to begin a throwing program in early August. Broxton threw off a mound for the first time Sept. 12, but he won't have enough time to return to action this season.
INF Juan Uribe (abdominal strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 24 with what originally was called a left hip strain. Uribe was taking batting practice every day in mid-August, but he hadn't improved enough to be able to run the bases. He got a cortisone shot to numb his left hip. He underwent season-ending surgery Sept. 7 to repair a sports hernia.
RHP Rubby De La Rosa (sprained ulnar collateral ligament in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 1. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Aug. 9.
RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly. He underwent season-ending surgery during the All-Star break and began his rehab.
RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation, sore neck) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14 due to the arm injury. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but he was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he likely will miss the rest of the season. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 6.