The Dodgers have seemingly mastered the art of the in-season turnaround so it's only natural that they try to extend their Midas (or "might us?") touch. Edinson Volquez tries to turn around his bad season on Wednesday night, as he starts the Dodgers' series finale against the Rockies.
After entering spring training with eight starting pitchers with guaranteed contracts, the Dodgers used their ninth staring pitcher on April 27, when Matt Magill made his major league debut in just the 23rd game of the season for the team.
Given that disastrous early attrition, that Volquez is only the 11th starting pitcher used by the Dodgers in 2013 is a massive win.
The franchise record for starting pitchers used in one season is 19, by the 1944 Brooklyn Dodgers. But that season is such an outlier — no other Dodgers' team has used more than 14 starters — it seems World War II took its toll on that team. The record since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles is 13 starting pitchers, set in 1964, an injury-plagued 80-82 team that was the only Dodgers team in a five-year span (1962-1966) that failed to win at least 95 games.
Volquez pitched an inning of relief in his Dodgers debut on Friday night, the 26th pitcher used by the team this season to set a new franchise record. But with San Diego Volquez was terrible on the surface with a 6.01 ERA in 27 starts, including 5.64 in the pitcher's haven that is Petco Park.
But peripherally Volquez was better, for what it's worth, with a 4.20 FIP and a 4.22 xFIP. He felt good after a bullpen session on Sunday, per MLB.com:
"I was tipping my pitches and we worked on it," he said. "I will be more comfortable with my delivery. We worked one hour, let's see what happens. On the video we saw different mechanics. We worked a lot on hiding the ball. You can tell the difference with my hands. We'll see if I can do what they want me to do.
"I'm 100 percent positive. I've got a strong mind. I'm so happy and glad to make one or two starts before the season is over."
That strong mind will be put to the test on Wednesday, when Volquez makes his eighth career start at Coors Field. In the previous seven starts in Denver, Volquez allowed 33 runs in 34⅓ innings and opposing batters have hit a whopping .349/.441/.568 against him.
In three starts this season, Volquez has allowed 21 runs and 29 hits in 12⅔ innings, with six walks and just four strikeouts. His 14.92 ERA is the highest single-season ERA at Coors Field with a minimum of 10 innings.
Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness looked at the release points for Volquez, among other things, and is skeptical that his fixes will do much good on Wednesday.
Volquez is starting to help give the starting rotation extra rest, and with a 13½-game lead Tony Jackson at Dodger Scribe doesn't see much downside to the decision to start Volquez in his house of horrors:
And what if Volquez actually goes out tonight and pitches well? And even if he doesn’t — he has a career 8.39 ERA in seven starts at Coors, and in his most recent start here for the Padres less than a month ago, he gave up eight earned on nine hits over 4 1/3 — so what? At least Mattingly and Honeycutt and general manager Ned Colletti will have their answer.
Know this: Volquez isn’t pitching for a spot in the playoff rotation. There isn’t room. Heck, there isn’t even room for Capuano in that. So don’t worry about it. Mattingly won’t commit beyond tonight on what Volquez’s role will be, so if this experiment blows up in the lab, you can rest somewhat assured that you want have to watch it again.
There’s no way to stop it. So cross your fingers, hope for the best and sit back and see what happens. And hey, look at it this way: if it goes really, horribly awry, you can always take comfort in the fact that in this particular instance, you were smarter than Colletti, Mattingly and Honeycutt put together.
Time: 5:40 p.m.