The early returns on most everything the 16-6 Dodgers have done this April has been couched by, “Yeah, but they’ve been beating up the dregs of the National League.”
OK, so mostly true. Still, the Dodgers just completed a six-game homestand against two other teams off to hot 2012 starts –- Atlanta and Washington –- and the early returns on one team’s uncertainty were only encouraging.
The rotation was excellent.
Entering the season, the starting five consisted of an ace and four questions marks. Right now, it’s one of the best rotations in baseball.
The Dodgers’ starters currently boast a 2.63 earned-run average, tying for the third-best mark in the majors.
More encouraging, in the six-game homestand against the Braves and Nationals, they combined for a 1.73 ERA. In the six starts, they combined to give up only eight earned runs.
Not a serious weak link in a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano.
”:Obviously, they were pretty good,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “Kersh (Kershaw) was really good, Bills (Billingsley) was tied in there with (Stephen) Strasburg and Capuano was outstanding (Sunday).
“And really he’s pitched well every time out. The first couple (of starts), he had a couple of innings where he got stuck, but since then he’s really been pretty outstanding.”
Capuano is supposed to be their fifth starter and he’s currently 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA. All he did Sunday was shut out the Nationals for 6 2/3 innings and strike out nine.
Ted Lilly (2-0) is holding opponents to a .138 batting average and leads the majors with a 0.90 ERA. Billingsley has had only one bad start in five and is 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA. Kershaw is 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) and is holding opponents to a .182 batting average. Only Harang (1-1, 5.16 ERA) is still searching for consistency.
It’s been one month, so plenty can still change. But so far the results have been hopeful and no one has yet to fall victim to injury, no simple feat when three starters -- Lilly, Harang and Capuano -- are at least 33 years old.
That’s a day shy of one month, with five to go, but the Dodgers must have growing confidence that their rotation is going to give them a chance to win most every night.