Clayton Kershaw (4-2, 3.23 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.73 ERA)
Kershaw could have put himself into Pitcher of the Month consideration if it weren’t for his first start in May, a 1 1/3-inning, seven-run disaster. Everything since then has been gold. He’s allowed just two runs in 22 1/3 innings and struck out 23 in three starts, all wins. The key for Kershaw has been controlling his emotions early in the game. Opponents still have a .353 batting average against him through his first 15 pitches.
Strength – Has a great pitchers’ frame and impressive strikeout ability, especially due to a good fastball and impressive slow curve. Can dominate on the hill.
Weakness – When he gets into trouble, it’s because he loses control of the strike zone and thus walks too many batters. Needs to display more consistency.
Heat Check – Kershaw is hot (3-0, 0.81 in last 22.1IP)
Dempster has lost four straight decisions, and did not get a decision in his previous start, against the Phillies. He’s been roughed up this month, going 0-3 with a 5.00 ERA after compiling a 2.78 ERA over five April starts. He’s 6-3 in his career against the Dodgers, including two wins last year.
Chad Billingsley (5-2, 3.66 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 3.09 ERA)
Billingsley, along with Clayton Kershaw, has given the Dodgers a one-two punch in their dominant May as the team has soared up the standings. Billingsley has gone at least seven innings in his last two starts, and he’s allowed just one run and eight hits combined in that span. He has wins in his last three starts, and he’s maintaining a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than two-to-one (44 strikeouts and 21 walks). Billingsley was an All-Star and incredibly consistent in the first half of last season, and the change he’s made that seems to have him back on that path is a focus away from sinking his fastball. He said he was trying to be something he’s not, and has gotten back to his bread-and-butter: his four-seamer and his curveball.
Strength – A true power pitcher with mid-90’s heat, he also boasts a fantastic slider. Has a warrior mentality and the ability to rack up impressive inning totals.
Weakness – Lacks consistency with his command, which can lead to underachieving numbers. Could use a more effective change-up, since left-handed hitters fare better against him.
Heat Check – Billingsley is hot (2-0, 0.63 in last 14.1IP)
Gorzelanny had to leave his last start against the Phillies after getting hit on the left hand with a pitch. X-rays were negative and he was not expected to miss a turn. The Cubs do have an off-day Monday, which gives the lefty one extra day of rest. Against the Phillies, he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out five.
John Ely (3-1, 3.41 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (1-4, 4.30 ERA)
Ely has been “found money” for the Dodgers in manager Joe Torre’s eyes, and it’s hard to argue. The rookie right-hander was called up at the end of April because the Dodgers were desperate for pitching, and all Ely’s done is throw strikes. He went 89 batters without issuing a walk until the first inning of his last start, against the Tigers. That was his only walk in his last four starts. He went six innings, allowed two runs on eight hits and notched his third straight win. All five of Ely’s starts have been six innings or longer. His velocity sits in the high-80s, but he’s striking out batters too: 28 in 31 2/3 innings.
Strength – Boasts a good arm and pretty good stamina, so he is able to log a lot of innings. Throws strikes with consistency. His change-up is an above-average pitch.
Weakness – Sometimes, he doesn’t trust his stuff enough in pressure situations. Perhaps he relies too heavily on his off-speed stuff.
Heat Check – Ely is hot (3-0, 2.45 in last 25.2IP)
In his previous start, against the Rangers on Friday night, Lilly pitched 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in a 2-1 loss. In five career starts and one relief appearance against the Dodgers, Lilly is 3-1 with a 3.94 ERA. In three starts at home this season, he is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA.
All scouting information provided by MLB.com and TSN.ca
Golden Dodgers Nuggets
- Casey Blake grew his beard back last week and won our player of the week honors. Dodgers fans are wearing “In Beard we Trust” t-shirts. It was a bit unreal how he went off right after he started growing the beard back.
- Furcal is being activated for the series but the drama will be who gets sent down or DFA’s. Starting 2nd baseman DeWitt with Carroll moving over to take his spot, or DFA the useless Nick Green.
- The starting pitching as been awesome during the winning streak as long as Ramon Ortiz is not on the mound. I don’t think they have given up more then three runs in any start, not started by Ramon Ortiz.
- John Ely continues to befuddle hitters even with his FB barely topping 90MPH. We love the White Sox for taking Pierre and actually giving us a pitcher of value.
Notes provided by True Blue LA Dodgers blog.