The Dodgers wrapped up their spring schedule tonight with a nice glimpse into the decreasingly distant future. They beat the Mariners 8-1 behind a slew of youngsters, none more impressive than Rubby De La Rosa. The reigning Dodgers minor league pitcher of the year award winner and co-Mulvey Award recipient took the mound at Dodger Stadium for the first time, and he made it his own.
De La Rosa had a pitch limit of around 70 pitches, and he made it last through 5 2/3 dominating innings. He allowed just two hits and had no walks, facing just one batter over the minimum. De La Rosa struck out six Mariners, including Ichiro twice, swinging. Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik joined the Mariners' television broadcast during the game and, when he was asked how the Mariners looked this spring, Zduriencik replied immediately about De La Rosa, saying something to the effect of "They've certainly got a good one pitching tonight."
The Dodgers are going to need a fifth starter for at least a couple of starts in April as they wait for Jon Garland to return. There are valid reasons to not start De La Rosa in that spot -- he needs to work on his secondary pitches, there's no reason to add him to the 40-man roster before they have to, especially for only a few starts -- but I know who I would be excited to watch for a few April starts, and it's not Tim Redding or John Ely.
I'm not saying De La Rosa should be the fifth starter all season; that would be too much on his shoulders. After all, he only pitched 110 1/3 innings in the minors last season and it wouldn't be prudent to expect a big jump in innings this year. Nor do I think De La Rosa would be better than Garland over the course of the season. But for a few starts in April, after which they could manage his workload accordingly in the minors, and since they already would have to make a roster move to accommodate Redding, letting Rubby start is the inspired choice.
In addition to De La Rosa, Jerry Sands celebrated his half of the Mulvey Award by collecting a single and making a couple of very nice catches in right field. Also, Dee Gordon, who tweeted "Greatest moment of my life tonight!!!" before his Monday night debut appearance at Dodger Stadium, had another nice moment tonight, with a diving grab of a soft line drive in the hole in the seventh inning.
Marcus Thames homered for the Dodgers, as did 28-year old minor leaguer Corey Smith, who belted three home runs and two doubles in 16 plate appearances this spring.
Well, that's it for the fake stuff. Real games begin tomorrow night, with Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum on the hill. Opening day rosters are due at 8 a.m., and the game is at 5 p.m. PDT. Baseball is here. Are you ready?