By Thom Henninger
Since May 9, the Los Angeles Dodgers have gone a major league-best 23-7. Their surge has made it easy for Dodger fans to forget the team’s 13-17 start. Solid pitching often is associated with the Dodgers, but the staff posted a 5.04 ERA in the first 30 games, which ranked 25th in the major leagues at that point.
The Dodgers have a 2.88 ERA in their last 30 games, the lowest in the majors over this span. Both the rotation and the bullpen have posted ERAs more than two runs lower during the 23-7 run.
Clayton Kershaw kicked off the surge with eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball against Colorado on May 9, and he’s gone 5-1 with a 1.91 and .179 OBA to spark the Dodgers. He allowed a total of just five runs in his first five starts of this stretch, but has given up seven his last two times out. Yet, he’s averaged nine strikeouts a start over his last three outings. He fanned a season-high 10 in his 4-3 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday.
After a couple of rough starts in early April, Chad Billingsley has been very effective during the surge, going 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in six starts. He won his first four starts in this stretch, beating the Diamondbacks, Padres, Tigers and Cubs. He finally lost for the first time in a month on Saturday, despite a quality start against a red-hot Atlanta club.
Los Angeles rookies Carlos Monasterios and John Ely have been terrific. During the 23-7 run, Monasterios is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and .162 OBA. He worked five scoreless innings in relief before winning two of three starts after Ramon Ortiz was cut loose. In his one no-decision as a starter, the 24-year-old rookie held Arizona to two hits over five innings, but the Dodgers needed 14 innings to claim a 1-0 victory.
Ely was 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in a string of six consecutive quality starts before Altanta stalled his quality-start streak on Sunday. In that game, the 24-year-old rookie allowed his first home runs of 2010, ending a run of 50 innings without giving up a longball.
Closer Jonathan Broxton has been as dependable as ever, allowing only a single earned run and converting all 14 of his save opportunities during the Dodgers’ winning spree. He’s recorded 24 strikeouts and a 0.51 ERA in 17.2 innings.
Hong-Chih Kuo has been equally impressive. In 13.1 innings during the Dodgers’ 23-7 run, he hasn’t allowed a run, giving up just five hits and striking out 17. In fact, Kuo hasn’t allowed a run since his first appearance of the season on April 22.