Haeger to start for Dodgers again
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger's four-inning, bullpen-saving relief appearance in Tuesday night's lopsided loss to Milwaukee was enough to reclaim his spot in the starting rotation, at least for now.
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Haeger will start Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies, his first start since he was lit up for five runs in four innings by the New York Mets in the second game of a doubleheader on April 27. Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Haeger's command of his knuckleball against the Brewers was much sharper, and besides, what other option do the Dodgers really have?
"Because we're down to the H's, I guess," Torre said.
Haeger will be pitching on three days' rest after throwing 67 pitches against the Brewers, but because he relies so heavily on the knuckleball, which is far less taxing on the arm, that doesn't really matter. Haeger is getting the call over rookie Carlos Monasterios, who also threw two innings (and 31 pitches) against the Brewers and who was marginally effective but still lasted only four innings in his only start Saturday night against Pittsburgh.
Ely headed down?
Rookie right-hander John Ely's second big-league start against the Brewers on Thursday night probably will be his last for a while. With reliever Jeff Weaver set to come off the 15-day disabled list Friday, Ely is the most logical candidate to be sent back to Triple-A Albuquerque, even if he pitches a no-hitter against the Brewers.
"If he goes out there and gives us a chance to win, we will see what we see," Torre said. "But we're coming up against it with Weaver coming back. We have to make a move. [Ely] could, even though he pitches well, still be one of the guys who aren't here. But he knew that when he got here, anyway."
Ely, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Chicago White Sox in December as part of the Juan Pierre trade, is one of the organization's top pitching prospects. He made his major-league debut on April 28 against the New York Mets, giving up five runs in six innings and taking the loss, and he hasn't pitched since.
Torre was non-committal beyond this week on the two rotation spots that presently are in flux -- the spots Ely and Haeger are filling this time through. But one thing he still isn't ready to do is put Weaver into the rotation, even though the veteran right-hander has been a starter for most of his career.
"Last year, even when we did it a couple of times, you were talking about five innings, which is OK when you talk about the quality he gave us," Torre said. "But he is more comfortable at this point in the bullpen. But still, with where are starting rotation is now, for me to say something is impossible would be silly. We aren't talking about doing that right now, but there may be situations where we have to rethink it."
Weaver made seven starts for the Dodgers last year and posted a 3.13 ERA in that role, but he averaged less than five innings in those starts.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.