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Its Time To Scrap The Thirteen Pitcher Idea

The Dodgers have had 13 pitchers on their 25-man roster for 30 of 58 days so far this season, and everyday but three since April 30.  With Hiroki Kuroda out since opening day, and the bottom two spots of the starting staff averaging about 4½ innings per start, there was a time when it didn't seem like such a bad idea.

I am an advocate of the 11-man pitching staff, mostly because of the flexibility it gives a team offensively, but I have come to terms that 12-man staffs are just a sign of the times.  The Dodgers, even without Manny Ramirez, have about as stable a lineup one through eight as you will find, so perhaps a shortened bench isn't such a hindrance.

But the 13-man pitching staff has run its course.  For me, the tipping point was last night, when pitcher Eric Milton pinch-hit for Kuroda in the fifth inning.  It was the third time since April 30 the Dodgers have used a pitcher to pinch hit (although one of those times was a sacrifice opportunity).  That just seems like two or three times too many.

Joe Torre doesn't like to use his backup catcher as a pinch-hitter, so our four-man bench is really a three-man bench.  Last night, all three "real" pinch-hitters (Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Jamie Hoffmann) were eventually used in that role.  Kuroda is now back.  We don't need as much insurance in the bullpen, especially once Kuroda starts pitching deeper into games.

If Blake and Furcal, who are nursing injuries, need a few more days off, why not call up Blake DeWitt (who played SS last night)?  The concern with DeWitt was that he wouldn't get enough ABs with the big club, but now seems like as good a time as any to call him up.  He could spot start for Blake and Furcal as needed and get 10-12 plate appearances a week.

It's time to have a real bench to work with, so Torre doesn't have to use pitchers to pinch-hit anymore.