James McDonald has been officially named the 5th starter to begin the season with the Dodgers. For about a week or so this had been the talk, but Joe Torre went on record with it yesterday.
Good for him. After watching him at the end of last season, it was obvious he was another prospect with really good stuff and a really good future. His numbers this spring haven't been very pretty - 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA - but he's given up 3 runs in his last 10.1 IP. There's plenty of reason to be excited.
But I can't help but comment that while McDonald has stepped up, he was given a huge boost by the miserable pitching of others. The Dodgers were hoping to find lightning in a bottle like they have so many times in the past by bringing in forgotten veterans and seeing who would step up. Shawn Estes, Eric Milton, Jeff Weaver, and Claudio Vargas had their chances.
And all of them failed miserably.
Estes is now trying to become a left-handed specialist, which could prolong his already shaky career. Weaver is going to Triple-A to get more innings in. I have no idea what the plans for Milton and Vargas are, but they all pretty much pitched their way out of contention.
I'm sure the Dodgers wanted to see McDonald at least start off in the bullpen and work his way up, but they have no choice. Jason Schmidt still isn't ready to pitch every 5th day, so that didn't work either.
Ready or not, here comes McDonald. His first start will be on Friday in Arizona.