Nobody really knew what to expect. How could they? They hoped rookie Matt Magill would do well, of course, but he was a 23-year-old making his major-league debut. An emergency fill-in for a depleted rotation.
Magill became the Dodgers’ ninth starting pitcher in their first 23 games. So with four starting pitchers on the disabled list, the call went out to Magill.
Magill, who had made four starts above the double-A level. Who had been drafted in the 31st round in 2008. Who back in spring was nowhere on the rotation radar.
But after a slightly rocky beginning, Magill gave the Dodgers all they could hope for, and a little more. He went 6 2/3 strong innings Saturday, holding the Brewers to a pair of runs on four hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts.
“He seemed to be getting better as the game went along,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We feel like he’s on the rise.”
Magill played baseball at Simi Valley’s Royal High School, and his family was at Dodger Stadium to take in his debut.
“It was awesome,” Magill said. “I have great support, and to be able to make my debut here in L.A. was the greatest experience of my life.”
When Magill left the game, the Dodgers were up 3-2 and he was in position to earn the victory, and the crowd gave a nice standing ovation to the emergency starter. Milwaukee ultimately rallied to win with a pair of two-run homers off reliever Matt Guerrier.
“He went further than we talked about,” Mattingly said. “He did his job.”
A.J. Ellis had never caught Magill before, aside from a bullpen session last spring.
“I was impressed by his composure and confidence, his ability to slow the game down,” Ellis said. “He was in complete control of his mannerisms. He looked even better that what I’d seen on video.
“It was a big pick-me-up for our team.”
Ellis said he could relate to Magill, a fellow late draft pick who has battled his way to prominence within the organization.
“I was really, really happy for him,” Ellis said.
Despite his outing, that may be the last the Dodgers see of Magill for awhile. Chris Capuano is expected back from his strained calf injury and to return to the rotation in early May.
But at least the Dodgers will now have confidence they have someone else they can call upon if they get in rotation trouble again. They know his fastballs and sharp sliders can get major leaguers out.
“I just wanted to come in and show what I could do,” Magill said. “Whatever happens, happens.”