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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stults Stymies Sox: Dodgers 5, White Sox 0

28-year-old Eric Stults made his 20th major league appearance and his eighth start a memorable one, a complete game shutout on four hits against the AL Central's leading team. Happy as I am for Stults, I look at the 2006 and 2007 Dodger teams and observe that they had junk on them like Mark Hendrickson (2006: 96 ERA+; 2007: 88 ERA+), Jae Wong Seo (2006: 78 ERA+), Odalis Perez (2006: 66 ERA+ in 8 GS), and Esteban Loiaza (2007: 55 ERA+). The fact that it took injuries to Jason Schmidt, Hiroki Kuroda, and Brad Penny for Stults to see a major league roster isn't intrinsically galling; after all, at some point you do have your minor leagues to look to for spare parts, and Eric Stults should qualify there. He was on exactly none of the prospects lists to my knowledge, and certainly none of the Baseball America Prospect Handbooks from 2004 on.

So I can sort of see where the Dodgers were coming from in leaving him out of discussions of the rotation. Nevertheless, given the way this club has been built and the way it has progressed, it seems that guys like Stults only get their chances due to a catastrophe, and there's something inside me that screams at the injustice of that. I also remind myself that this may be Stults' high-water mark in the majors; it's a truism that baseball makes room for lefties, and his ability to make outs may very well depend on the league having not seen him very much. Nevertheless, congratulations are in order, and hopes for more good outings in the future — chances that he will apparently get after this outing. He ought to: he is the only Dodger starter with a winning record.

The offense was the big surprise, of course, with the Dodgers picking up five runs, all driven in by kids, including the final one by Stults himself on a sac fly. Really, considering the insincere and idiotic noise that Colletti has made about running the team lately, it's a healthy tonic.

Incidentally: the Dodgers are having some effect on the AL Central race, for with this win and the Twins' 9-3 beatdown on the Padres (Greg Maddux gave up seven runs, all earned, in 5.2 brutal innings), only a half game separates Minnesota from the still-in-front Chisox.

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