Considering McDonald's struggles so far this season, the decision is a smart one.
However, the decision did not go far enough. James McDonald needs to be sent to Albuquerque.
So far the season has been a disaster for McDonald. His record is 1-1 with an ERA of 8.16 with just over 14 innings pitched. The most alarming stat is that he has walked 14 batters while striking out only six.
McDonald needs to go back to Triple A so he can regain his mechanics that aided him in becoming the organization's player of the year last year. Between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas, he was 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA. During that time, McDonald struck out 141 and walked 53.
Being only 24-years-old and having unlimited potential, McDonald represents an important part of the Dodgers' future.
The fact that McDonald has been a starting pitcher for most of his minor league career gives a good indication of what the Dodgers expect him to do in the major leagues. McDonald would just be spinning his wheels if he only pitched a few innings of relief each week.
If McDonald went back to Albuquerque, he could stay with the same pitching regiment that he had in Los Angeles.
James McDonald needs to pitch extended innings. Coaches need to figure out why he looks good one inning and then goes back to the mound for his next inning of work and has no control at all.
McDonald has to have his confidence restored. That is not going to happen with the Dodgers hiding him, only pitching him in blowout games. Pitching McDonald only in meaningless situations would just reinforce the doubt that he has in himself now.
In any event, James McDonald would be the pitcher to get sent down as soon as Hiroki Kuroda or Hong-Chih Kuo would be healthy enough to rejoin the team.
The Dodgers are probably reluctant in sending down McDonald because there is no apparent candidate to bring up. No reason to call up Eric Milton or Shawn Estes if they are not coming to LA to start.
The Dodgers have 13 pitchers on the major league roster now. As strong as most of the staff has been so far, the team would survive with 12.
Jason Repko is the logical player to re-call. With Manny Ramirez experiencing some discomfort in his hamstring, it would be a safe move to add another outfielder. Repko has good speed, and with his strong arm and reliable glove, Repko could he a late-inning replacement for Manny.
If the Dodgers want to protect their investment, James McDonald should be optioned to Triple-A as soon as possible.