by Joshua Worley
Duck! Incoming Veteran Starter
If I had to grade Kuo's start last night, I'd have to give it an F. He seemed to be doing okay until the fourth inning. He really needed to strike some of those guys out and he couldn't. They kept hitting the ball, and hitting it hard. I'm not too discouraged by it, though for the first time my faith that Kuo is on his way to becoming a very good starter is shaken. Some guys are never able to put it all together consistently. Maybe he's one of them. There's no doubt that he's capable of brilliant starts, but his pitch counts mount too quickly and he's really struggled lately.
I don't think Ned Colletti is going to be content to let Billingsley and Kuo fill out the Dodger rotation for the rest of this season. Both of them have struggled noticably often, and neither one is giving the team very many innings. I believe Colletti is going to aggressively pursue at least a mid-level veteran starter.
I'd like Kuo and Billingsley to get at least another month. And they may, as I doubt any move will happen very soon. The teams involved in the trade market seem to be waiting to see how things shake out with the races and the various offers. But I think that as soon as he can Colletti will replace one of the young pitchers in the rotation. Young players don't seem to get a long leash with the Dodgers. I have no idea who the Dodgers would target in a trade, or who they might be willing to give up. But I'm already bracing myself for the small possibility that Matt Kemp could be traded. I think Colletti will be loath to lose him, but I also think Colletti will not be happy with both Kuo and Billingsley in the rotation the rest of the year, unless both suddenly become consistently good starters in the next month.
I'm saying what I think will happen. I don't really want it to happen, though I believe a legitimate case could be made for trading for a starter. Being a young prospect shouldn't be a guarantee of playing time any more than possessing a big contract should. But neither Kuo nor Billingsley deserves to lose his starting spot yet.
I'm happy the Dodgers could take a chunk out of the Padres bullpen, including Hoffman, even if the rally came up a bit short at the end. I've always felt that Trevor Hoffman was a little overrated. He's an elite closer, of course, but last year he got more votes than Saito in the Cy Young voting when Saito clearly had the superior year.
Looney Loney Line Watch
Right now James Loney is 22 for 46 on the year. He's batting 0.478 with a 0.848 slugging percentage.
To get back to batting 0.500, he needs to go 3 for 4 or better in tonight's game.
To maintain a batting average above 0.400, he needs to make sure he doesn't go 0 for 10 in an epic extra-inning game.
To reach a 1.000 slugging percentage, he needs 11 total bases in 4 at bats. For instance, two home runs, a double, and a single.
To reach a 0.900 slugging percentage, he needs 6 total bases in 4 at bats. I favor the Pierre-cycle to reach this number: a triple, a double, and a single.
To maintain a slugging above 0.800, he needs at least one hit of any kind in 4 at bats.