Review and Preview Number 9

Well it’s been quite a while since my last post, so I’ll start today off with a Review and Preview.  I’m not going to talk about the Marlins series, so just know that the Dodgers took two out of 3 behind strong pitching by Clayton Kershaw and Jon Garland, and timely hitting by James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Dioner Navarro in the first win, and basically everybody but Jerry Sands in the second win.

Yesterday, the Dodgers kicked off their 3 game series with the Rockies by winning 7-1.  Chad Billingsley pitched some of the toughest 7 innings of 1 run ball I’ve ever seen, as he gave up 11 hits and walked 2 (although he also struck out 8, including the entire side in the 2nd inning with 2 runners on base).  He was throwing fairly well, and definitely pitching to contact.  During the 7 innings he pitched, the leadoff man got aboard in all but the first inning (and in the first inning, it took this amazing throw and tag by Matt Kemp and Rod Barajas to prevent Carlos Gonzalez from scoring,) but he was able to induce lots of ground balls (three double plays) and he still missed his fair share of bats.  I’d say this is a fairly typical game from Bills though.  He induces a good amount of ground balls, and strikes out the rest of the opposing batters.  He didn’t even have his best stuff yesterday either, as he was behind in the count fairly often (and that’s also why he gave up tons of hits).  But Groundballs and strike outs tend to be how Billingsley goes through his game.  It looked to me that he would be unlucky with the leadoff hitters, because besides Todd Helton, he tended to give up weak bloopers/liners that just got past the defense, or hard hit groundballs.  As soon as men got on base though, he induced easy outs with strike outs and double plays.  Overall, a good game from Bills.

On a more positive note though, the Dodgers were able to score at least 7 runs for the second game in a row.  Andre Ethier and James Loney drove in 3 runs (two off a Home Run, which he hit pretty hard into Right Field), and Kemp had 1 RBI for good measure.  Furcal continued his hot-streak/return to above-average-ness by getting 2 hits, and Jamey Carroll ended his skid with a weak infield single and a triple to the corner in Right Field.  Kemp also had a stolen base, which was his 14th of the season.  Kemp is on pace to have a 30-30 season, which would be amazing, and if he has a high enough average, could maybe put him into the MVP conversation.  It was a strong day for the Dodgers hitters though, as they fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch from Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who Vin Scully said was only able to get 3 swings and misses all game.  It was a below-average start for an innings-eater type pitcher, and those types of starts tend to happen with guys like Hammel.

The Dodgers bullpen was also solid in a no-pressure environment.  Scott Elbert was shaky, but Matt Guerrier came in and bailed him out, and Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless 9th inning to end the game.  This is a very minor complaint, but I would have liked to see Mattingly let Ramon Troncoso pitch the 8th and 9th innings, because he’s basically taken Lance Cormier’s “mop-up-man” role, and pitchers like that should be pitching with 6 run leads.  But it doesn’t really matter that much, as Kershaw threw a Complete Game the day before, so most of the bullpen should be well rested for today’s game.  I’m sure Guerra, Guerrier and Elbert can all pitch again too.

And in tonights game, the Dodgers will send Ted Lilly to pitch against Clayton Mortensen.  Mortensen has a nice 2.83 ERA, but, as usual, peripheral statistics such as K/BB ratio (barely over 1, which is bad), and BABiP (.196, which is very very low) suggest he’s been very lucky, and will fall back to earth.  Given that the Rockies have been in a funk for quite some time now, I think Mortenson will be the next to be affected by it.  I’ll say he goes only 4 innings, and gives up 5 runs, while Lilly goes 6 innings and gives up 3 runs.  I’m not actually all that confident in Ted Lilly (To be fair, I never am unless he’s pitching against a truly punch-less offense), but I think he’ll pitch just well enough to win.  Or maybe not, but I think the Dodgers will hit Mortensen and the Rockies Bullpen hard enough that it won’t matter too much.  I think the Dodgers will win tonight, and look to sweep tomorrow against Ubaldo Jimenez.

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