The Dodgers entered spring training with guaranteed rotation spots assigned to Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, and Clayton Kershaw. The fifth spot was largely up for grabs between the likes of Eric Stults, James McDonald, Jason Schmidt, Jeff Weaver, and Eric Milton. The latter three had battled injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness in recent years but had a previously established track record that merited a low risk opportunity.
Well, Stults seemingly won out, but an injury to Kuroda opened up another spot, affording McDonald the chance to build upon his relief success last season and add starts to his resume. In his last three starts, McDonald surrendered eight runs in 11 innings with a 4/11 K/BB ratio. Joe Torre was not impressed and opted to move McDonald back to the bullpen.
Jeff Weaver got the call to replace McDonald after an impressive four-inning relief outing in which he held the Padres scoreless. After two solid starts, Weaver’s seasonal line sits at 14 innings with a 2.57 ERA and 3.01 FIP. He isn’t the same guy from the Tigers days or the first Dodgers stint but Weaver at least deserved to stay in the rotation.
Instead, Joe Torre has called upon Eric Milton to get at least one start in favor of Weaver. I’m not sure if Jeff is hurt, but I would hope he is for the sake of this decision. Granted, Weaver’s sample of performance is small, but when evaluating pitchers from start to start, small samples and scouting info are the only bits of info available.
The Dodgers certainly have depth at their fifth starter spot with the aforementioned quintet pitching in either the show or at the farm, but Weaver was pitching pretty well. Did he get hurt, or is Torre simply trying to see what he has with Milton?