May 12

Arizona’s acquisition of Edwin Jackson hasn’t paid off as hoped


Roy Dabner/AP
Has it really been almost seven years since Edwin Jackson’s thrilling debut against Arizona?

While the Dodgers were getting worked over by the press for not adding a premium starting pitcher during the 2009-10 offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks were boldly going out to get 2009 American League All-Star Edwin Jackson (who starts tonight against the Los Angeles) for their rotation — trading, among others, one-time prized prospect Max Scherzer. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

My early reaction to the news that the Arizona Diamondbacks had traded away Max Scherzer was, “The Dodgers have the McCourts. What’s Arizona’s excuse?”

From what I could tell, almost all the thoughts about Tuesday’s trade, a three-way endeavor that included Arizona sending Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to Detroit in exchange for the Tigers’ Edwin Jackson and the Yankees’ Ian Kennedy, matched mine. Why was Arizona giving up a lower-paid pitcher with a higher ceiling?

I know I’m not alone among Dodger fans in retaining a soft spot for former boy in blue Jackson, who had his best season last year and is still only 26. But I’ve been hearing for quite some time splendiferous things about Scherzer, who is 25, struck out more than a batter an inning in 2009 with an adjusted ERA of 111 (4.12 ERA) and will make millions less than Jackson in 2010.

If the Dodgers had made this kind of trade — a prized young pitcher sent away for short-term gain — anger would have blasted through the roof and finger-pointing would have zoomed through the hole in the roof that anger had created. It would have been an ugly day, at least on this website. Even though the Dodgers would be taking on more salary for 2010, the trade would have been seen as a short-sighted mortgaging of the future, another sign of a crumbling empire. (A similar scenario: Imagine the Edwin Jackson for Lance Carter-Danys Baez trade happening now.)

Yes, some would have defended the trade, just as some are pointing out that Scherzer might not have the build or mechanics to truly blossom as a starter, or that Kennedy still has rotation potential, or that Jackson should do even better in migrating back to the National League. But considering how negative the overall reaction is toward Arizona making this move, you can only imagine, in the context of the Dodgers’ current dysfunction, how harsh things would have been if Los Angeles had done it. …

So how has it all worked out?  As you might expect, not as expected.

Scherzer has a 6.81 ERA in seven starts for Detroit — and that’s lower than Jackson’s 7.32 mark for Arizona. However, Kennedy, the lesser of the starting pitchers to come in the trade, has a 3.48 ERA despite allowing a National League-high eight home runs. (Among others involved in the trade, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson have also done well for Detroit, while Schlereth is in the minors.  Curtis Granderson is mired in a lousy year, making the Yankees the big loser in the deal to date.)

In September 2003, Jackson made his major-league debut on his 20th birthday against Randy Johnson and won, on a night dimensionally more thrilling than John Ely’s besting of Dan Haren Tuesday. Tonight on the same field, he’ll be trying again to recapture those good vibes, while the Dodgers, who were held to two runs over six innings the only other time they have faced him (while he had a 7.85 ERA with Tampa Bay at the time), will try again to avoid looking bad for ever letting Jackson go in the first place.

* * *

Two notes from Stat of the Day: 2009 Dodger Will Ohman, who spent most of the year on the disabled list, has a 0.00 ERA after 11 innings with Baltimore (allowing four of 13 inherited runners to score), and No. 8 hitters for the Giants have an Andre Ethier-like 1.194 OPS this season, led by Nate Schierholtz.

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Joined by my colleague Stuart Levine, I’m doing another live chat about all things TV today for Variety at 2:30 p.m. As of this moment, you can click the link and start sending your questions …

May 11

Wa happen? Dodgers blindside Haren and Diamondbacks, 13-3


Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Manny Ramirez is congratulated by Matt Kemp during the Dodgers’ victory.

“John Ely” is “John Elway” minus “wa,” the Japanese term made famous to baseball fans in the U.S. in Robert Whiting’s book “You Gotta Have Wa.” “Wa” means “group harmony,” so I’m told, and I get the sense that a heroic John Ely gave up his “wa” for the good of the Dodgers.

That is my best explanation for how, on a night when Arizona pitcher Dan Haren got all nine outs in the first three innings via strikeout, the Dodgers ended up coming away with a 13-3 slaughter of the Diamondbacks – and how Ely defied the odds and took a shutout into the seventh inning for the second game in a row.

Ely has now faced 48 batters over 12 2/3 innings in his past two starts and allowed only 10 singles – and no walks or extra-base hits – while striking out 13. He has allowed three runs in that period, all of them in the seventh inning. He has been indisputably critical in turning around the season for the Dodgers, who have now won eight of 11 games to move into third place by themselves, 4 1/2 games behind San Diego and three games behind second-place San Francisco.

As for the offense, after weathering Haren’s strikeout storm, the Dodgers got three consecutive doubles in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead and doubled that margin by the bottom of the seventh, when Ely, Jeff Weaver and George Sherrill combined to allow three runs and make it a tight game again. (Ramon Ortiz was called into get the final out of the seventh inning, throwing four pitches and raising questions about whether this will impact his scheduled start Friday.)

Just when nervous time seemed to be approaching, Jamey Carroll and pinch-hitter Garret Anderson singled before Russell Martin hit a three-run homer to give the Dodgers breathing room in the top of the eighth, an inning that ended up with Los Angeles sending 12 men to the plate and scoring seven runs. Two more tallies came across in the ninth, while Carlos Monasterios (lowering his ERA to 2.18) retired all six batters he faced to wrap things up.

The Dodgers had 23 baserunners in all. James Loney had two doubles and two singles, Manny Ramirez two walks and two singles, Martin a single and hit-by-pitch to go with his homer, and Andre Ethier two doubles. Ramirez’s on-base percentage is now at .507 for the season, Ethier’s league-leading OPS is at 1.175, and thanks in no small part to Ely, the Dodgers are looking like a real team again.

May 11

John Ely and Dan Haren: no guarantees


US Presswire
John Ely tonight faces Dan Haren, an All-Star selection the past three seasons.

I’m going to say the odds are stacked against John Ely coming close to his success last week against Milwaukee. First of all, any rookie pitcher would have a tough time pitching shutout ball into the seventh inning of back-to-back games. Then, you add in the uncertainty of the past four days, when instead of having a normal routine, Ely was triangulating (at least mentally) between Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Phoenix.

Further, the Diamondbacks will have the benefit of having seen video of Ely’s dominance of the Brewers and can prepare accordingly. Ely will have to be able to adjust in front of a visiting crowd.  It’s going to be a challenge.

Pitching for Arizona will be Dan Haren, their undisputed top pitcher at least while Brandon Webb remains injured. However, the Dodgers haven’t found him unbeatable — though he has been tougher lately. Since coming to the National League in 2008, here’s how Haren has done against the Dodgers (ERA is Haren’s season ERA entering each start):

Date Place ERA* IP H R ER BB SO Team result
4/7/08 Arizona 4.50 6.00 6 3 1 0 5 W, 9-3
4/23/08 L.A. 1.80 4.67 9 6 5 2 5 L, 3-8
7/19/08 Arizona 2.72 7.00 4 0 0 2 7 W, 3-2
8/30/08 Arizona 3.10 6.00 10 5 5 0 5 L, 7-14
9/5/08 L.A. 3.41 4.00 6 5 5 4 2 L, 0-7
4/12/09 Arizona 1.29 6.00 4 2 2 3 2 L, 1-3
6/2/09 L.A. 2.54 7.00 2 1 1 1 7 L, 5-6
8/14/09 Arizona 2.57 8.00 6 1 1 2 8 W, 4-1
9/9/09 Arizona 2.78 7.33 7 3 3 1 9 W, 4-3
4/15/10 L.A. 3.95 6.33 6 2 2 2 7 L, 6-5
    Average 6.23 6.0 2.8 2.5 1.7 5.7

*ERA entering the start

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Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan and his son, former major-leaguer David Newhan, have teamed up on a blog, Newhan on Baseball. In the most recent post, David goes after Ken Griffey, Jr. about the hotly debated sleeping incident. Earlier, Dad and lad disagree on Arizona’s illegal immigrant law. (Remember, no political debates at Dodger Thoughts, but the Newhans seem to welcome them.)

May 11

Have you noticed the Dodgers are playing .700 ball?

Some mid-day snacks:

  • The Dodgers have won seven of their past 10 games, but as Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness writes, it doesn’t quite feel that way, does it?
  • What has gone wrong with the Dodger defense? Neil Paine tries to break down the breakdown at Baseball Reference Blog.
  • Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone explains why he thinks James Loney might be getting worse, not better.
  • Bryan Morris, who was included in the Manny Ramirez trade, has pitched 26 consecutive scoreless innings, notes Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. His ERA for the season is 0.66 in 40 2/3 innings. Keep in mind he’s a 23-year-old in A ball.
May 10

As Dodgers cruise in Arizona, questions about Billingsley ease


Matt Kartozian/US Presswire
Chad Billingsley zeroed in on 14 first-pitch strikes out of 23 batters faced tonight.

It was just about a wire-to-wire victory for the Dodgers tonight, who never trailed in defeating Arizona, 7-3. The amazing Andre Ethier had three more hits – part of the 17 men that reached base for Los Angeles.

In fact, it was such a good night that the most controversial moment of the game was merely this: Was a victorious Chad Billingsley taken out too soon?

Billinglsey, of course, has the millstone of not having pitched in the seventh inning of a game since July. But in his past three starts entering tonight, he had completed six innings in under 100 pitches. Even after he got hammered by Milwaukee in the first inning last week, he followed up with five shutout innings and was only at 90 pitches after six. Nevertheless, each of those past three starts Billingsley was removed from the game, either for a pinch-hitter and/or because Dodger manager Joe Torre felt he had had enough.

This, by the way, also happened during Billingsley’s maligned second half of 2009: On six occasions after the All-Star Break, Billingsley pitched six innings in under 100 pitches while allowing three earned runs or fewer. It’s not as if Billingsley hasn’t struggled since last July, but this idea that he always melts down by the sixth inning is in some ways a joke.

So anyway, Billingsley was just about cruising tonight in Arizona: five innings, 81 pitches, two hits, three walks, seven strikeouts. In the sixth, with the Dodgers leading 4-1, he allowed a walk and a double to put runners on second and third with one out. Chris Young, who accounted for the Diamondbacks’ only run with a second-inning solo homer, was up. And Torre went straight to the bullpen.

This isn’t the worst decision Torre is going to make in 2010, but it was one of the least inspiring. Billingsley, who now has a 3.47 ERA in his past four starts with 19 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings, had earned the right to try to get out of the jam with only 90 pitches under his belt.

The scenario was not unlike what Billingsley faced September 23 at Washington, during the Dodgers’ pennant drive. Billingsley had a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings and a three-run lead with only 84 pitches thrown, then allowed a game-tying home run to Ryan Zimmerman. So yeah, it wasn’t like bad things couldn’t have happened tonight, things that would have haunted our conversations for days. But if you expect this guy to be a mainstay of your staff, you’d think you’d be a little less fearful of what could go wrong and instead more hopeful about what could go right – especially when he’s been pitching well.

In any case, if people want to get up in arms about Billingsley and the seventh inning, they’d better at least throw an angry glance in Torre’s direction.

But I will offer this as a counterpoint. If Torre made the decision to pull Billingsley in order to protect his arm for the long haul – similar to his choice to give Billingsley and other Dodger starters an extra day of rest this week by starting Ramon Ortiz on Friday – I might be able to get behind it. Torre was almost relentless in his use of Billingsley in the first half of last season, when the righthander threw at least 105 pitches in 12 consecutive games and 17 out of 19, racking up the most pitches thrown in all of baseball for the first half of ’09. It’s been my theory that Billingsley, who was only 24 at the time with one full season as a starting pitcher in the majors under his belt, simply wore down by the second half (and then had his leg injuries complicate matters). I can’t prove it, but it’s more plausible than other theories I’ve heard.

I think it’s possible that Torre, while also perhaps being a bit nervous regarding Billingsley and his reputation for suddenly allowing big innings, might also be thinking that Billingsley needs to be paced, and is actively looking for ways to limit his use in the early going. And if that’s the case, despite my being upset at Billingsley being pulled from tonight’s game, I’m all for it.  And I’m confident that if Billingsley keeps giving Torre good innings, we won’t be talking about this subject much longer.

For what it’s worth, Ramon Troncoso, who is the focus of a lot of burnout fears, has had his workload eased a bit this month. He had one outing of 27 pitches between last Wednesday and tonight’s 13-pitch ninth inning. In four appearances (none in consecutive games) over the first 10 days of May, Troncoso has thrown 71 pitches.

May 10

Dodgers eye Ramon Ortiz for Friday start


Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Ramon Ortiz’s last major-league start was in 2007.

Joe Torre told reporters tonight that as of this moment, he plans to start Ramon Ortiz on Friday instead of taking advantage of Thursday’s off day to skip the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Torre wants Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley to get the extra day of rest.

Ortiz has a 5.24 ERA in 22 1/3 innings with 31 baserunners allowed (including four home runs) against 16 strikeouts. In relief against Colorado on Saturday, he was charged with two runs on eight baserunners in five innings. He’d be taking the mound next in pitching-friendly San Diego.

Torre indicated that he expects John Ely to stick around for a while, that this second callup isn’t a one-time thing. A start Friday by Ortiz would bump Ely’s next outing from San Diego to Monday in Houston.

Torre also said that Charlie Haeger’s heel has been bothering him and that he wasn’t letting on about it. If Haeger’s injury isn’t invented and he really has been pitching hurt, well, you know, that was really irresponsible of him.

May 10

A fine time for a shutout

Clayton Kershaw’s 30th pitch of the first inning Sunday was a laser that on first glance looked too high and too inside to prevent him from walking in a run and unleashing another torrent of dread for the Dodgers. But home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called it a strike, and on replay it appeared it was the right call.

Another right call: Having faith in Kershaw, who went from the tightrope to the autobahn in the Dodgers’ 2-0 victory over Colorado and Ubaldo Jimenez.

After loading the bases in the first on a single and two walks, Kershaw allowed only two more baserunners  in his next seven scoreless innings, striking out nine. The Rockies didn’t once hit the ball to the outfield, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes, until an eighth-inning flyout by Clint Barmes. Kershaw didn’t get first-pitch strikes on about half the batters he faced, but Colorado still couldn’t figure him out.

Kershaw’s shutout ball enabled the Dodgers to outlast Jimenez, who had thrown 104 pitches through seven innings and presumably could have continued if he hadn’t been pinch-hit for with one out in the top of the eighth. Russell Martin took advantage of the Rockies’ move to reliever Matt Daley with a hard home run to left. That run provided some comfort when a 50-foot single by Ryan Spilborghs in the ninth inning put runners on first and second against Jonathan Broxton. Ian Stewart swung at the next pitch, a fastball clocked at 95, but got under it, leaving Andre Ethier to stock the can of corn on the shelf and let the Dodgers come home victorious.

Ethier, of all people, struck out in all three of his at-bats against Jimenez, but the Dodgers for once won without his contributions.

The Dodgers’ first run of the game was brought home by Blake DeWitt, who had his sixth double in his past 12 games after having no extra-base hits in his first 14 games.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more on the game.

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Wild one in Albuquerque on Sunday. James McDonald started and allowed two runs over his first six innings, striking out six, then was pulled after allowing a walk and two singles to start the seventh. Jon Link relieved and allowed one inherited run to score while being charged with five others. The Isotopes still won, 15-12, thanks in part to a 4-for-4 (plus a walk) day from Chin-Lung Hu and a triple and homer from Jamie Hoffmann. Hu’s OPS crossed the .600 threshold and now sits at .618.

It is widely expected that John Ely will be recalled from Albuquerque to start Tuesday’s game. After being sent down Friday, the Dodgers needed to place a pitcher on the disabled list to allow Ely’s recall inside of 10 days. Sunday, the Dodgers began making a public case that Charlie Haeger has right heel problems. You do the math.

May 09

Colorado didn’t trade for an ace … they got dealt one


AP
Ubaldo Jimenez and Clayton Kershaw face off at Dodger Stadium today.

Colorado’s starting pitcher today is an ace. He’s 6-0 with an 0.87 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 41 1/13 innings against 43 baserunners.

But the Rockies didn’t trade for Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez came up through the Colorado farm system. He showed promise in half a season at age 23, was solid at age 24, excellent at age 25 and now, except for complete games, is putting up Fernando Valenzuela-like numbers at age 26.

Here are the stats for Jimenez and Dodger starters Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley at last year’s All-Star break:

Pitcher Innings per start ERA BR/9 K/9
Jimenez 6.4 3.81 12.3 7.9
Kershaw 5.5 3.16 11.6 8.9
Billingsley 6.6 3.38 11.5 8.5

Even allowing for the fact that Jimenez pitches half his games at Coors Field, could anyone have reasonably concluded that 10 months later, he would have an ERA more than 4.00 lower than Kershaw and Billingsley? That Billingsley wouldn’t be every bit as good as Jimenez or better, or that Kershaw wouldn’t be right on their tails?

While I understand – really, I do – why it’s expected that the Dodgers should use their resources to acquire more talent than their division rivals, right now the main difference between the front of the Colorado and Los Angeles starting rotations has nothing to do with that. The difference is that the 22-year-old Kershaw is still getting on track and the 25-year-old Billingsley got sidetracked, while at age 26, Jimenez has moved onto the fast track.

May 08

Crass knuckles: Haeger hopeless in 8-0 Dodger loss


Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Charlie Haeger couldn’t fool anyone tonight with his knuckler.

There’s the kind of gruesome that is Joe Theismann’s leg getting crushed beneath him by Lawrence Taylor, and then there’s the kind of gruesome that was the probable end of Charlie Haeger’s Dodger career.

Haeger nearly had more runs allowed (five) than strikes (eight) in his five-batter, no-out start tonight for the Dodgers, who lost, 8-0. The knuckleballer has given up 49 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings for the year with an 8.49 ERA. Even by the sorry standards of the Dodgers’ 2010 pitching, that’s some gangrene that is going to have to be amputated from the staff.

Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Monaserios, George Sherrill and Jeff Weaver combined for nine innings of three-run relief to keep the game from becoming one for the books, but in doing so left the Dodgers with a need for a Tuesday starting pitcher. John Ely can’t be called up that quickly unless a pitcher goes on the disabled list. The other options are pulling someone from the Albuquerque rotation – James McDonald (3.97 ERA), Scott Elbert (7.77 ERA) or Josh Lindblom (5.40 ERA) are currently scheduled for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – and saving him the upcoming start at Arizona.

Jhoulys Chacin held the Dodgers without a run for 7 1/3 innings and was only really bothered by Andre Ethier, who had three of the six hits Chacin allowed. Ethier raised his batting average to .394 and his on-base percentage to .457.  Chacin has now pitched 15 1/3 scoreless innings to start his season.

Manny Ramirez went 1 for 4 in his first game off the disabled list and ran down the line and in the outfield without trouble.

Shawn Hillegas, the last Dodger starting pitcher to fail to record an out (August 8, 1988), made his major-league debut 365 days earlier and came within one inning of a shutout. It’s a game of extremes.

May 08

Calf of Manny is better than none


Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Tonight will be Manny Ramirez’s 12th start in 30 Dodger games this season.

Tonight’s the first time we’re taking our family of five to a night game.  Taking bets on who lasts longer: my 2-year-old or Charlie Haeger.

* * *

Mike Piazza hopes there’s a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, according to Joe Brescia of the New York Times (via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).

May 08

Saturday morning crib sheet

  • Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com recaps the Dodgers’ 6-5 victory over Colorado on Friday.
  • Friday was a day for the ages: 47-year-old Jamie Moyer becoming the oldest pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout, and 20-year-old Starlin Castro (baseball’s first player born in the 1990s) setting the record for most RBI in a major-league debut. (By the way, check out Satchel Paige’s 12-inning shutout at age 46.)
  • Fifty years ago today, “quiet-mannered, pleasant gentleman of 32” Vin Scully had this interview in the Times (via Keith Thursby of the Daily Mirror). You might find some anecdotes there you haven’t heard before.
May 07

Awaiting a roster move …

The Dodgers were due to make a roster move before tonight’s game to make room for Jeff Weaver coming off the disabled list, but it was not available when I was heading off to the magic show at my kids’ school. (The announcement was coming after batting practice.) So you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out who magically disappears from the team.

In the meantime, a couple of comments from Dodger manager Joe Torre to reporters:

On Xavier Paul: “He has a certain attitude about the way he plays the game. He’s pretty cool at the plate, he doesn’t get too excited and had a big two-strike hit last night. He is doing better in the field.”

On Charlie Haeger: “I’d like to see what I saw the other night: He needs to be around the plate with the knuckleball. He said he needs to just go out there and pitch, and has been over complicating things for himself.”

* * *

Frank McCourt has been ordered to pay Jamie McCourt $637,000 per month in spousal support, retroactive to December, reports The Associated Press. The McCourts have also been told to sell their $7 million home in Cabo San Lucas and split the proceeds to help cover their legal fees, according to TMZ. Joshua Fisher of Dodger Divorce has more:

The biggest damage to Frank coming out of today’s news is that Commissioner Gordon didn’t buy Frank’s neat little attempt to have the court bless the post-nup. Frank, you’ll recall, wanted the court to order Jamie to dispose of some of the couple’s real estate to help pay her bills. Such an order would have implicitly acknowledged the validity of the post-nup, which stipulates that the residential properties are Jamie’s and the Dodgers Frank’s in the case of a divorce.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s not like that money would have gone into the team had the McCourts stuck together.

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Earlier this week, Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News reflected on how Ernie Harwell might have come to Los Angeles with the Dodgers and Vin Scully could have ended up the Giants’ play-by-play man.

May 07

Andre Ethier just plain rocks


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Andre Ethier connects for his walkoff grand slam Thursday.

Andre Ethier’s walking off right into the stuff of legend, the kind of thing people will remember decades from now, the kind of thing you want to appreciate even when times aren’t great.

Ethier has converted 25 percent of his 44 walkoff opportunities, the highest percentage in baseball since 2006 (minumum 20 opportunities), according to David Pinto of Baseball Musings.

By comparison, Pinto writes, Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego has had 59 walkoff opportunities in that time and converted two, and Florida’s Hanley Ramirez is 0 for 50.

Stat of the Day notes that Ethier’s 11 walkoff hits since 2008 are twice as many as anyone else in baseball. Five of Ethier’s past six have been homers.

Ethier remains a Triple Crown contender in the early going, tied for the National League lead in homers and tops in RBI, but despite what has been written elsewhere, he still doesn’t lead the league in batting average. Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez is 31 for 77 (.403) with 84 total plate appearances. Washington has played 28 games, so he needs 87 PA to qualify for the league lead. If you give him three more outs, as the rules would dictate at the end of the season, Rodriguez would be 31 for 80 – .388 – ahead of Ethier’s .377. Ethier still leads the NL in slugging percentage and OPS.

By the way, what is Ivan Rodriguez doing leading the NL in batting average?

* * *

Quote of the mornin’ comes from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, in the wake of key contributions by John Ely and Xavier Paul in Thursday’s victory: “Maybe instead of sending more rookies down, the Dodgers should be calling more of them up.”

May 06

Party at Ely-sian Park: Dodgers 7, Brewers 3


Jeff Gross/Getty Images
John Ely

With a near-perfect changeup offsetting a fastball that sat in the high 80s, John Ely simply dazzled in his second major-league start, which the Dodgers won, 7-3.*

For the first six innings, Ely, who turns 24 in a week, put the fun in efficiency, requiring only 80 pitches to shut out Milwaukee on two singles and no walks while striking out seven. He retired 16 batters in a row after allowing a second-inning hit to Casey McGehee. His only three-ball counts in the first six innings came against Jim Edmonds, who struck out each time (and one other).

The Brewers pecked away at Ely in the seventh, fouling off 11 of his 28 pitches to scratch across their only run. It remains to be seen whether Ely can survive with that fastball, but if he can keep pairing it up with that change while attacking the strike zone, there’s potential. And if nothing else, he was a sight for sore eyes and arms tonight.

The Dodgers earlier indicated that Ely would head back to the minor leagues after today’s performance to make room for Jeff Weaver coming off the disabled list, but it’s almost unfathomable that the team would do so with its starting pitching in the disarray it has been in. Keeping Ely would require the Dodgers to shed Ramon Ortiz – if somehow the Dodgers can’t wrap their head around letting him go, then Ely will rejoin Albuquerque inside of 24 hours.

I’m looking at that last paragraph again. Keeping a 24-year-old pitcher with a plus changeup who threw six shutout innings would require the Dodgers to let go of 37-year-old Ramon Ortiz. This is kind of like the $100 question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

*Footnote: The Dodgers won after Jonathan Broxton blew the save on a walkoff grand slam by Andre Ethier in the bottom of the ninth.