Monasterios to Start Friday in Colorado

Carlos Monasterios will get the start on Friday for the Dodgers (pick your source: Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles, or Bill Shaikin of the LA Times), but Friday sounds like a bullpen game if I have ever heard of one.  Monasterios last pitched one week ago tonight, May 19, so he will have eight days rest between appearances.  Monasterios pitched three innings on that night, but is he really going to be able to pitch deep into the game in Colorado?

Monasterios got a spot start on May 1, True Blue LA night, and pitched four innings that night.  Since then, he has only pitched four times, pitching a total of nine innings in those games.  Manager Joe Torre said he plans to add a reliever by Friday's game, as the Dodgers are carrying 11 pitchers, the first time since April 23, 2008 that they have had fewer than 12 pitchers on the active roster.

Monasterios has been a nice story so far, a Rule 5 pick who has stuck around, and on the surface he has pitched quite well.  His 1.90 ERA is second on the staff to Jonathan Broxton.  But dig a little deeper and what do you have?  Monasterios has a pretty good walk rate (2.66 BB/9, fifth on the club), but he hasn't struck anybody out (4.94 K/9; only Jon Link was worse).  His FIP is 4.50, and x-FIP is 4.85, suggesting he has been the beneficiary of some good luck thus far this season.  Outside of the extra-inning game in Washington, Monasterios has pitched almost exclusively in low leverage situations, and has the lowest average leverage index on the team.

In short, Monasterios is a fine option to have in the back end of the bullpen, but I don't think he should be starting every fifth day, although he is easily a much more inspiring choice than Ramon Ortiz.  The Dodgers are in a stretch of 16 games in 16 days, so the fifth starter spot will come up two more times:  June 2 and June 7.  The Dodgers need a starter during those games that is likely to pitch deeper into the game.

James McDonald and Scott Elbert have struggled at times in Albuquerque this season, but both showed improvement with their last start.  McDonald allowed four runs over seven innings on Friday, but more importantly walked none and struck out eight.  Elbert walked 28 batters in his first 32 1/3 innings this year, but rebounded Sunday with a one-walk, five-strikeout performance over six innings.  McDonald is scheduled to start tonight for the Isotopes, and Elbert is slated to pitch Friday.  If the Dodgers want to add a 12th pitcher by Friday, make it McDonald or Elbert, and give them the ball to start next Wednesday at Dodger Stadium against the Diamondbacks.

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