Dodgers Pitchers Like Team: Talented But…

For the first time this year, Dodgers pitchers are toeing the rubber, catchers are getting in a crouch behind the plate today— and as they do there are more questions than answer.

Not questions about who, the Dodgers come in with four-fifths of their starting rotation set and a couple likely players lurking in the wings. The question is just how good are they? This is talented but inconsistent group. Gone are the steady starts of Derek Lowe. The  kids have live arms, but is that enough to gamble on? The Dodgers have pushed their chips all in saying yes.

Look at the starting rotation:

Chad Billingsley. After the All Star break last season he was a number one starter — his ERA was 2.99 the second half of the year, and over the course of the season he struck out more than a batter an inning. He is just 24. His stuff is wicked. He could be an All Star, but in the playoffs last year two of his three outings he looked like a kid scared on the big stage. Billingsley is a microcosm of the team — he has the talent to be big time, but will he be the inconsistent guy from the first half of last season or the stud from the second half?

• Hiroki Kuroda. He was the Wachowski Brothers of the Dodger rotation — mega-hit or mega-flop every time out. His numbers for the season pan out to be pretty good, a 3.73 ERA for example, but in he finished with a 9-10 record because he was a great pitcher one week and pulled in the third the next. At age 34, can he improve enough to skip the lows? Or are we starting to see the downside of his career.

Clayton Kershaw. Potentially the best Dodger pitcher, but in just his second year as a starter, having been thrown into the mix last year, it seems the best the Dodgers should hope is for more consistency. In a couple years he may be special, this year above average would be good.

Randy Wolf. Another guy with superb stuff, but who in the end is pretty average (he was 12-12 last season, pretty much the definition of average). He’ll have some good games, but what the Dodgers really need is just games — he needs to stay healthy. If he can start 33 games again like he did last season, and he can stay around .500 with his record, that will be plenty for an affordable fourth starter.

Jason Schmidt? If he’s healthy, he could be a huge boost to the rotation — this is a former legitimate number-one starter. Of course, people are as likely to count on his health as they are to run out and buy General Motors stock right now. He hasn’t been on the mound since June of 2007 — the Dodgers need a backup plan. But since he’s getting paid Tom Cruise money, you’d like to see him at least earn some of it.

Overall, it’s a group that has you saying, “maybe, if everything breaks right…” But that is not a comfortable feeling. This is a group that is going to need the bats to provide some support — but that’s another group of talented but inconsistent players that could be great or not. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

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