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Starting Pitching Will Be Key For Dodgers On The Road

So far this season, the Dodgers have played amazing at home, yet have been rather ordinary on the road:

W-L Runs/G For Runs/G Against
Home 14-3 6.53 3.12
Road 8-8 4.56 4.63

It's hard to ignore the offensive difference, nearly two runs per game better at home.  However, if we dig a little further, perhaps the difference isn't all that great:

Home 6.53 .315 .393 .475 .357
Road 4.56 .253 .354 .371 .298

The Dodgers' batting average on balls in play (BABIP) at home really jumps out, at .357.  It seems too high to sustain over any long period of time.  The .298 BABIP shown by the club on the road is more normal compared to the rest of the league, and seems closer to what the figure will end up at by season's end.  Before the season, I thought this club would score five runs per game, but that was with Manny Ramirez.  With Juan Pierre manning left field, the 4.56 runs per game sounds like a reasonable projection, moreso at least than the 6.53 runs per game at home.

If we look at the pitching, there is another large difference in home and road performance.

Home 3.02 1.177 3.42 8.20
Road 4.63 1.331 3.97 6.82

The bullpen has been reasonably similar whether at home or on the road:

Home 3.97 1.271 2.75 8.24
Road 3.78 1.180 3.24 7.20

The biggest difference in performance has come from the starting staff:

Home 5.82 2.45 1.121 3.82 8.18 9 of 17
Road 5.38 5.13 1.419 4.40 6.59 5 of 16

In 17 home games, no Dodger starting pitcher has given up more than three runs in any game.  On the road, that has happened seven times.  For the Dodgers to have more success on the road, their starters simply need to pitch better.

For one in particular, Chad Billingsley, that means returning to the site of playoff horrors in Philadelphia, writes Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

But by the time he reported to spring training, Billingsley appeared to have come to terms with what had happened. What he wouldn't say to reporters, he said to Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt in a meeting early in camp.

"He was very honest about it," Torre says. "It bothered him. . . . He wasn't pretending it wasn't there. He's a very proud young man and a very honest young man and he attacked it."

Billingsley in 2009 has been good both at home and on the road, with seven quality starts, four at home and three on the road.  It's the other pitchers that will need to step up, notably tonight's starter Clayton Kershaw, for the Dodgers to have a successful trip.