Lilly Dazzles with Dodgers

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, August 21, 2010

I don't regret Jim Hendry's July 31 deadline trade with the Dodgers, but it's worth noting that Ted Lilly has been nothing short of spectacular since joining his new team.

Lilly, like other Cubs pitchers this season, was victimized by a lack of run support and a poor defense behind him. The 34-year-old left-hander managed just a 3-8 record despite a respectable 3.69 ERA in his 18 starts with the Cubs. At the time of the trade, he had the second-worst run support of NL starting pitchers.

As a Dodger, Lilly has won all four of his starts while allowing just four earned runs and 12 hits in 28 innings (1.29 ERA). Only five of the hits surrendered by Lilly since the trade have been for extra bases.

Lilly, who is eligible to become a free agent this offseason, was at his best in his most recent outing Thursday with a two-hit, complete-game masterpiece in a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. He struck out 11 and walked two while throwing 79 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He set down 19 in a row at one point en route to his third career shutout. It was his first complete game since Aug. 23, 2004 when he was with Toronto. Of the 30 batters he faced, Lilly fired first-pitch strikes 22 times (73 percent).

And it was another illustration of how location and changing speeds are the foundations of effective pitching. You don't have to throw 100 MPH to get major league hitters out. Lilly consistently got his low-70s curve over for strikes and topped out at 89 with his fastball.

"It was probably the easiest nine innings I've ever caught at the major league level, at any level," Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus said. "I wasn't really much involved. He knew what he wanted to do."

Both Dodger runs were produced by another ex-Cub - Reed Johnson - who hit a two-run homer in the second inning.

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