2009 MLB National League West Notebook
When the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to part ways with pitchers Brad Penny and Derek Lowe, they believed they had enough pitching depth to survive the losses.
Of course, the Dodgers have had a long history of developing pitching. Led by right-hander Chad Billingsly, the Dodgers were 11-5 and leading the division going into a weekend series at Colorado because they can just shut people down.
Billingsly is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA through his first four starts. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw has struck out 22 in 16 1/3 innings, while left-hander Randy Wolf was 1-1.
The Dodgers have also been one of the most efficient teams in the National League because they don’t allow any walks. They have yielded only 52 in their first 139 innings.
Then add closer Jonathan Broxton converting all five of his save opportunities and you have a team that appears to be setting the trend again. The Dodger team ERA was 3.50.
It also doesn’t hurt when you also don’t beat yourselves. Los Angeles committed only five errors in its first 16 games.
For some bizarre reason, there are questions about manager Bruce Bochy’s future with the organization.
However, that may be a little unfair as the Giants’ manager is in the early stages of his third season. Truth be told, he hasn’t been given the most talented roster. The Giants have the worst offensive team in baseball as they have scored only 46 runs this year, an average of three runs per game.
Plus, you can blame management for the confounded signing of left-hander Barry Zito. Zito arguably threw his best game as a Giant on April 22 against San Diego. He tossed seven scoreless innings.
That lowered his ERA this season to 5.63. The good news is he has better control with six walks in his first 16 innings. He didn’t get the win, but getting angry about his performance of times past may have been the fuel. Zito said he had just grown tired of the lousy efforts. Zito has a career 10-19 record as a Giant.
One reason for the Rockies last place showing in the division going into the weekend series with the Dodgers is the ballclub’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
The Rockies are hitting .230, which ranked 26 th among baseball’s 30 ballclubs.
And so far, the anticipated resurgence of first baseman Todd Helton has yet to appear. Helton, who has dealt with back problems, is still coming back slowly. He has only one home run in his first 48 at-bats.
Of course, management would like to see more from Helton. The team owes him $75.3 million from 2009-2012.
Former Padre and sure Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman will go down as arguably the best closer the game has ever seen. He is baseball’s all-time saves leader with 554.
Hoffman will always carry a special place in fans’ hearts. But right-hander Heath Bell is making them forget Hoffman quickly. Bell has converted his first seven chances and not allowed a run. Four of his saves have come in one-run games.
And no one is hitting him. Opponents are batting .095.
At 6-2, 225, the question surrounding left fielder Conor Jackson is his power. He certainly has the size to be a productive hitter. But he really has yet to string anything together to suggest he will have a breakout year.
Jackson has had home run seasons of 15, 15 and 12 prior to 2009. But the Diamondbacks are hoping that this is the year their 2003 first round pick (19 th overall) will start to produce dividends.
And you may not have known this about Jackson. His father John M. Jackson played Admiral Chegwidden on former successful TV show JAG.
By Kevin Lonnquist
> View all of the 2008 MLB team previews from Pro Baseball Fans