The Dodgers have the best record in baseball in May, at 17-7, and a big reason why has been their pitching. John Ely has come out of nowhere to stabilize the starting rotation, a much needed boost with Vicente Padilla missing more than a month. The top four of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, and John Ely have combined for 20 starts in May with a 2.78 ERA, and the club has won 15 of the 20 games. Those four have pitched a total of 16 quality starts this month.
However, the fifth starter spot has been a problem. In four starts, Carlos Monasterios, Charlie Haeger, and Ramon Ortiz have combined to pitch just 11 1/3 innings with an 11.12 ERA. I removed the top four starters for each National League team in May (defined as the four pitchers with the most starts on the team), and the Dodgers have had the worst performance out of the back end of their rotation:
|NL "5th Starters" in May|
Even without Haeger's forgettable five-run, no-out start, the Dodger fifth starters are at or near the bottom of the league in ERA (7.15) and innings per start (3.78). The Dodgers have managed to win two of the four games started by the "fifth starter" spot, so all is not lost. However, it's hard to imagine winning half of your games with such dismal performances out of the final spot in the rotation.
Carlos Monasterios starts tonight, and in the midst of 16 games in 16 days the fifth spot will come up at least two more times before Padilla is ready to return. Haeger might be ready to return next week; perhaps he can regain his form from the first week of the season. Per today's Albuquerque Isotopes game notes, Scott Elbert was scratched from tonight's scheduled start, so perhaps he might take the fifth starter reins and run with them. Whomever takes the ball, it would be nice to have performances that resemble a real major league starter out of that fifth spot.