Twists and turns along glory road
The Dodgers could use a guy like Edwin Jackson, who averages seven innings per start and has not given up more than four runs since May 4. Jackson ranks third in the American League with a 2.96 earned-run average, trailing Cy Young Award favorites Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez.
The Dodgers had Jackson, of course. He made his major league debut six years ago, on his 20th birthday. He beat Randy Johnson, and the Dodgers and their fans envisioned the very success he is enjoying now.
Didn't happen here. Couldn't have happened here.
It is a tribute to Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw that each fit right into the major leagues. Yet it is not uncommon for a young pitcher to need a season of adjustment, or two, and the Dodgers simply do not hold a spot in their rotation for such pitchers.
James McDonald could tell you that. The last time the Dodgers awarded 20 starts to a pitcher with an ERA above 5.00: Carlos Perez, in 2000, in the middle of a seven-year playoff drought.
Fans can bemoan that Ned Colletti should have gotten more than two journeyman relievers when he traded Jackson to Tampa Bay, but Jackson was coming off a season in which he had a 6.28 ERA in L.A. -- and an 8.62 ERA in triple-A.
The Rays lost 101 games in 2006, which Jackson split between Tampa Bay and triple-A. The Rays lost 96 games in 2007, when they gave Jackson 31 starts and he gave them a 5.76 ERA.
He blossomed on the Rays' World Series team last year, and he has flourished with the Detroit Tigers this year.
"There's no secret recipe, no secret pitch, nothing," Jackson said last week at Angel Stadium. "It just came with time and development. I knew I was going to have the ball every fifth day, with no added pressure. I could get comfortable."
Coin flips out, tiebreakers in
No more of these breathless September headlines: "Dodgers win coin flip."
Baseball has abandoned the coin flip as the way to decide the home team for any tiebreaker games that might be needed to settle a playoff spot. The home team now will be determined by head-to-head record, followed if necessary by the better record within each team's division.
If the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies tie for the National League West title, no tiebreaker will be played if both teams will make the postseason anyway. The Dodgers would be awarded the NL West championship -- they have clinched the season series over Colorado -- and the Rockies would be awarded the wild card.
The Texas Rangers would clinch the season series from the Angels with one victory in the seven games remaining between the clubs.
Something fishy in these salaries
Never is baseball's salary disparity more evident than when a player on one team makes half as much money as the entire lineup of the other team.
The large markets . . . oh, wait.
The large-market team was on the surprising end of this disparity Thursday, when the injury-riddled New York Mets fielded a starting lineup making a combined $11 million. The opposition: the Florida Marlins, led by shortstop Hanley Ramirez and his $5.5-million salary.
-- Bill Shaikin