Dodgers pitching can't last

Unless Chad Billinglsey gets going, things could get ugly in L.A.

Updated: May 20, 2012, 10:22 AM ET
By Wendy Thurm | FanGraphs
Chad BillingsleyKirby Lee/US PresswireThe Dodgers need Chad Billingsley to pitch like the No. 2 starter he can be.

Heading into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed like a team in transition. Matt Kemp, newly signed to an eight-year contract, was expected to anchor a middling offense with the help of soon-to-be free agent Andre Ethier and a variety of veteran utility players. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would lead the starting rotation, followed by Chad Billingsley. Fingers were crossed for decent performances from three veterans on the tail ends of their careers.

Kemp, of course, is off to an other-worldly start (although he's currently sidelined with a hamstring injury). Ethier is playing like he wants a big, fat contract. Catcher A.J. Ellis, a starter for the first time in his career at age 31, is playing like a star. And the veteran position players, especially second baseman Mark Ellis, are more than holding their own, and the Dodgers have built a comfortable lead in the National League West.

But it's the veteran starting pitchers who have been the biggest, and most pleasant, surprises for the Dodgers. At 36 years old, lefty Ted Lilly is 5-0 with a 1.79 ERA and off to his best start since his 2001 season with the New York Yankees. Chris Capuano, another lefty in his mid-30s, is a tick behind Lilly with a record of 5-1 and a 2.34 ERA. And big, burly right-hander Aaron Harang, at 34 years old, is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA. The Dodgers are a combined 16-7 in games started by Lilly, Capuano or Harang.

Kershaw is again pitching like the ace he is, but the rest of staff is probably too good to be true.