Chad Billingsley looked really good last night, so much so that the Daily News is calling him a stopper. Well, I won't insult anyone's intelligence by pointing out that referring to a guy with one major league win as a stopper is a bit premature, mainly because their excitement is understandable. With a couple of slightly above average pitchers to go with Penny and Lowe (what happened, Odalis?), the Dodgers will have a great shot at the division. I assume this was Colletti's thinking in giving up what may be our best catching prospect for Hendrickson (I'll leave it to the reader to pass judgment on that, since I've already rung in). Last night, the kid looked like he could be one of those guys.
The race looks like it will be decided by trades, kids, and health at this point. Throw in luck, if you must (you must). I've mentioned a couple of times that I think the Dodgers and Diamondbacks look like the teams with the best kids. You know what our guys are doing, and Stephen Drew has been starting for Arizona. Chris Young and Carlos Quintin may help them down the stretch. For now, both teams will be without their most rewarding veterans from last year. Kent is on the DL for an oblique strain (which Baseball Prospectus indicates typically takes a month to heal, but they also point out that the clock started about two weeks ago). Tony Clark is now out due to shoulder problems that won't go away.
Willy Aybar, one of the kids who has already helped, look sweet last night. Can anyone really justify Izzy playing ahead of him? I'm a big Izturis fan, and didn't see the need to acquire Furcal as a pressing one, but he simply doesn't produce enough offensively. Speaking of Furcal, Baseball Prospectus also predicts that he will have a strong second half. He will almost certainly have a better second half than first half. The following chart shows his rolling 10-game OPS (that's team games, even if he didn't play, which he generally did) so far this season. The red red line is a trend line, and you can see that he's improved over time. You can also see that he's spent a good deal of time above .700 (his current season total--represented by the dotted line--is .698, excluding last night's game).
BP's other big prediction is that Broxton becomes Gagne Light. I can see him taking over closing duties, but I can't see him being anything light. Another possibility is that Tomko's stuff can work well for an inning, and he becomes the closer. At least his attitude is good: he welcomes the idea. Which reminds me: I don't like Odalis Perez.
Help from a trade seems unlikely, unless the price is something that most Dodger fans will flinch at. We'll see