What is going to make the Dodgers so tough to catch in the National League West is the consistency of their starting pitching. It is hard to imagine a team with a rotation of Tim Belcher, Orel Hershiser, Ramon Martinez, Bob Ojeda and Mike Morgan suffering a long losing streak. . . .
Brett Butler plays the game the way Richie Ashburn used to. . . .
The ankle injury that sidelined Cincinnati Red pitcher Jose Rijo could have been prevented. Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda is among those who have a rule against pitchers attempting to steal bases. . . .
Andy Van Slyke makes difficult catches look easy. . . .
The Pittsburgh Pirates aren't quite the same without Bobby Bonilla in their lineup. . . .
Only two of the seven teams in the American League East, a.k.a. Least, have winning records. . . .
Both comeback of the year awards could go to local players, Mark Langston of the Angels and Juan Samuel of the Dodgers. . . .
It's bad enough that catchers appeal to the third- or first-base umpire every time a hitter moves his bat as much as an inch off his shoulder. The other night, Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Walk made an appeal. . . .
Fay Vincent is guilty of overkill in the case of Pete Rose. . . .
The commissioner should be more concerned about the ever-increasing length of games. . . .
And if he really wants to do something positive, he will push for inter-league play. . . .
Gary Carter's most impressive statistic is that he has thrown out 11 of 23 attempted base stealers. . . .
The Dodgers, who have had so much success in the Dominican Republic, are now looking north for talent. Canadians were eligible for the amateur draft for the first time, and Los Angeles picked five of them. . . .
Judging from the reaction to an item in this space the other day, I'm in the minority about the DH. Most people seem to hate it. . . .
The trade that brought Lenny Harris to the Dodgers from Cincinnati looks even better when you read the Sunday averages and see that Mariano Duncan is the lowest-ranking batter in the National League. . . .
Look-alikes: Jim Essian and Sgt. Slaughter. . . .
The New York Mets could make a run at Pittsburgh if Ron Darling continues to pitch the way he did Saturday at Atlanta and Sid Fernandez, whose rehabilitation outing in Florida was impressive, contributes the second half of the season. . . .
Everyone knew the San Francisco Giants couldn't pitch, but they aren't hitting, either. . .
The return of young winger Jim Thomson, whom the Kings didn't really want to give up in the expansion draft, might turn out to be the key to the trade that sent Todd Elik to the Minnesota North Stars. . . .
Congratulations to former King winger and coach Bob Pulford upon being voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. . . .
Don't confuse Eric Lindros' style with that of Wayne Gretzky. Lindros is a big guy who was penalized 189 minutes last season in the Ontario Hockey Assn. . . .
The best basketball trades are made by sportswriters, not general managers. . . .
I'm surprised that Eric Murdock, the Providence guard who had such a great senior year, isn't rated higher in the NBA draft. . . .
If Len Bias had lived, the Boston Celtics probably would have won at least one more NBA championship. . . .
Any discussion of the great left-handers in sports history has to include Earl Anthony, the bowler who retired from the senior circuit last week. . . .
Hottest rivalry in track and field is between those elbow-throwing, middle-distance runners, Suzy Hamilton and PattiSue Plumer. . . .
Future book choice for the 1992 Kentucky Derby could be Lure, a 2-year-old who recently set a five-furlong record at Belmont Park. . . .
Among those who used to call the Olympic Auditorium fights on Channel 5 was Keith Jackson. . . .
The future of the California Raisin Bowl, which matches the winners of the Big West and Mid-American conferences, is in doubt after the move of host Fresno State to the Western Athletic Conference. . . .
Best first-round match at Wimbledon could be Michael Chang vs. Tim Mayotte. . . .
John McEnroe, who always volunteers his services, deserves a spot on the U.S. Davis Cup team that will play Germany, no matter what the surface. . . .
News item: Mills Lane is named referee for the Mike Tyson-Razor Ruddock rematch Friday at the Mirage. Reaction: Whom did you expect, Richard Steele?