We're only 5 games into Spring Training, but every starting pitcher (or wannabe starting pitcher) has had a turn at the mound. Let's take a look at how each has fared thus far:
The Big 4
Hiroki Kuroda: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K
Brad Penny: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Derek Lowe: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Chad Billingsley: 2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Total: 8 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K = 1.12 ERA
Please, make me the 5th starter!
Jason Johnson: 4 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Esteban Loaiza: 2 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Chan Ho Park: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K
Hong-Chih Kuo: 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Total: 10 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 3 BB, 3 K = 2.70 ERA
Wow, not too shabby at all. Some of the relievers, on the other hand, have been knocked around, but that's another story for another day.
As far as the starters go, it's really not a surprise considering how much talent they have. ESPN's Tim Kurk...jian (I love the dramatic pause) wrote a great article about how good the rotation can be, especially if Jason Schmidt comes back anywhere close to his former self. I really feel like they can carry the Dodgers much deeper into games than last year.
Looking at the potential 5th starters, the results have been largely great, with one slight exception. Granted, it's hard to make too big a deal either way about just 1 appearance (Johnson has 2). Judging by the results, it's easy to jump to conclusions that Loaiza is just terrible. There's no doubt about one thing - he was terrible against the Mets. He was terrible when the Dodgers picked him up. Does that mean he'll keep stinking the place up? No, but he certainly hasn't done ANYTHING to make you think he can turn it around. He really needs to step up and pitch some shutout innings and fast.
What's most encouraging is to see how the "wannabees" are performing. Johnson is the well-traveled journeyman who is hoping to land on yet another team. He's making a solid case right now. Park is facing a big uphill climb, but putting up zeroes will only help his cause. I really don't think he stands a chance of making the team, and I really have no idea if he's willing to try Triple A before the inevitable injury bug hits. It's probably his best option.
Kuo is the most intriguing option. Will he ever be healthy enough to hold onto a starting job? What works in his favor is the fact that he's a lefty in a rotation without any. Oh, and he can have some nasty stuff when he's healthy. At this point, I'll be Dodger fans would much rather see him get a shot at starting than Loaiza, I can pretty much guarantee that!