The Dodgers' top four pitchers have been solid, if unspectacular, this season, providing a solid foundation of a very good pitching staff.
It seems like the Dodgers have spent most of this season looking for someone to take the fifth starter role. First, it was James McDonald. Then Eric Stults got his chance. Eric Milton and Jason Schmidt fought back from injuries to take their shot. Jeff Weaver has spot started here and there throughout the year. The Dodgers even went the unconventional route, employing a knucklballer, Charlie Haeger, in the role, albeit on a short leash. All year, the Dodgers have needed someone to slot behind their top four starters, just to eat up some innings. Despite the uphill battle, the Dodgers have done remarkably well when their "fifth starters" have pitched.
Winning 67.6% of games started by these guys is pretty amazing, if not just a little bit lucky. The additions of Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland have helped, as did the pitching of Haeger, as the Dodgers have won seven straight starts by their "fifth starters." Before Haeger stepped into the rotation, the back end starters averaged only 4.55 innings per start. But, in eight starts starting on August 17, the group has averaged 5.63 innings per start.
The top four have thrown at least six innings in 71 of 102 starts, and thrown 62 quality starts. The fifth starters have only thrown six quality starts (also the same number of time they've pitched six innings), but four of those have come in the last three weeks, including Padilla's outing yesterday. Garland has pitched six innings in 17 of his last 18 starts, so it looks like for at least the final four weeks of the season, the back end of the Dodger rotation is more stable than it has been all season.