Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ pitching depth could be worse.

Ted Lilly

Ted Lilly makes his 2013 debut today against the New York Mets. (Getty Images)

When Ted Lilly starts tonight, the Dodgers will have used eight starters in their first 20 games of the season. SI recaps how the Dodgers got there.

The eight-starter experiment was basically a big game of “what if”: What if Chad Billingsley‘s elbow doesn’t hold up? What if Ted Lilly isn’t the same pitcher he was pre-surgery? What if the best pitcher in Korea can be one of the best pitchers in the United States? What if he can’t?

Here’s another “what if”: What if the Dodgers hadn’t gone out and acquired Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and entered this season with the same collection of starters they had a year ago?

Now you’re looking at Nathan Eovaldi stepping into the fifth starter’s job to replace Billingsley. Oh, wait. Eovaldi hasn’t pitched since spring training because of a shoulder issue. He’s on the 60-day disabled list (currently the Miami Marlins’ problem). Come on down, Stephen Fife.

After Fife, you’re looking at Allen Webster (who made his first major league start three days ago), Rubby De La Rosa (9.31 ERA for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate), Fernando Nieve, John Ely and perhaps Sandy Koufax as the next in line to start a game for the Dodgers.

You can thank your lucky Guggenheims that isn’t the case.

Some more bullet points for a Wednesday morning:
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Daily Distractions: Charting Matt Kemp’s struggles.

ESPN Stats and Info gives Matt Kemp the Hot Zone treatment on its blog today.

Author Mark Simon highlights several things that have ailed Kemp this season; here’s one more: Kemp is getting behind in the count a lot and not making pitchers pay when he gets ahead. According to ESPN’s chart, Kemp is 10 for 37 (.270) when he’s behind in the count and 4 for 17 (.235) when he’s ahead.

Here is ESPN’s “heat map” for balls in play/strikeouts when Kemp was ahead in the count last season:

Matt  Kemp 2012 heat map

That’s how you make a pitcher pay.

Onto some bullet points:

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Brewers 9, Dodgers 4; Dodgers 6, Cubs 3.

Tempers flared in a loss to the Brewers in Glendale, and the Dodgers rapped out 11 hits to beat the Cubs in Mesa, in the team’s final day of split-squad action in spring training.

Both benches were warned in the sixth inning of a 9-4 loss to Milwaukee after Dodgers starter Chris Capuano threw a pitch behind Ryan Braun. That followed a series of hit batters –one (Norichika Aoki) by Capuano and two (Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Rivera) by Milwaukee pitchers earlier in the game.

That was the end of the drama, however, and the Brewers scored eight runs over the final three innings to erase a 4-2 deficit.

Capuano allowed two hits, one (earned) run on a solo shot by Braun, walked one and struck out seven in six innings. His Cactus League ERA stands at 2.75. Matt Guerrier relieved him in the seventh inning and gave up a 3-run home run to the first batter he faced, Brooks Conrad, in his first game since March 11.

Guerrier was actually pitching his third game in five days, including minor-league games, and afterward declared himself free of any back pain and healthy to start the season.

“As far as I am concerned, (the injury) was over a week ago,” he said.

The Brewers’ Carlos Gomez hit a three-run home run off losing pitcher Jamey Wright in the seventh inning. Todd Coffey gave up three hits and four runs — none earned, thanks to a Jake Lemmerman error –in two-thirds of an inning. His spring ERA ballooned to 7.71.

Andre Ethier doubled and homered in four at-bats, giving him 15 extra-base hits among his 18 this spring.
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