Some unfamiliar faces have been spotted around the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout lately, but suddenly the number in the "W" column is going up. Meanwhile, the pitching has stepped it up with the return of some familiar faces, and the infusion of some new ones.
Pop Quiz: Who has the lowest ERA on the Dodgers' roster? If you said Carlos Monasterios, you'd be wrong. It's actually Jonathan Broxton. In nine games or 8.2 innings, Broxton has allowed just four hits and no runs while striking out 14 and walking only one. Tough to compete with that, but Monasterios isn't far off. In his 14.2 innings, Monasterios is sporting a 1.84 ERA, and has filled in marvelously for injured Dodger veterans.
Monasterios was brilliant in his first major league start, going four innings while only allowing one run. Manager Joe Torre pulled him after 79 pitches, leaving many to wonder why he didn't stretch him out over the fifth inning, which would have qualified him for the win. However, Monasterios isn't the only young Dodger getting valuable regular season experience.
Pitcher Charlie Haeger, catcher A.J. Ellis, and utility outfielder Xavier Paul all have bolstered their major league resumes this season, as injuries continue to nag the defending National League West Champions. Haeger has had a "rough go" of it so far this season, but he has filled in as an innings eater, sometimes pitching on just three days rest, in a time when the Dodgers have really needed him.
Ellis has become the catcher for Haeger, and has given Russell Martin a much needed break as Martin's groin continues to heal. Paul is seeing significant innings, even batting leadoff in front of Russell Martin, while Rafael Furcal is still out with hamstring issues. Thus far, Paul is struggling at the plate, batting just .200 (3-for-15) but providing versatility and range in the outfield.
Although the Dodger rookies and prospects can't all be Jason Haywards, their roles are all vital in the season swing for a team looking to rebound once their veterans come back from the disabled list. The role of unsung hero is one that is rarely relished in the public eye. So give them a hand, they are the reason we are still within range of the division lead.
Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw need to remain consistent, as it is apparent they will need to carry the load for a rotation lacking depth, and thus far it appears the rest of the pitching staff is following the lead. Dodgers pitching has allowed just five runs in the last three games. Granted, it was against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but hey, it's a two game win streak and the Dodgers have looked dominant after losing two of three to the sea burglars in Pittsburgh.
With the recent performance of the Dodgers' pitching staff and a return to consistency with the offense, the Dodgers look to be on the up-and-up. One thing is for sure, the trend is uplifting for L.A. fans: The team ERA is dropping, and the run production is rising. Good things to come.