Holding a sizable lead in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers can afford to be patient while star rookie Yasiel Puig recovers from a strained right knee.
Edinson Volquez might not get the same treatment should his struggles continue in his first start for the Dodgers on Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies, who helped hasten his exit from San Diego.Los Angeles (83-55) holds a 13 1/2-game advantage over Arizona after posting its sixth straight win, 7-4 over Colorado on Tuesday night. Carl Crawford had three hits and drove in two runs to compensate for Puig's absence, and Nick Punto contributed a season-high four hits.In his first start with the team, Michael Young went 1 for 5 and scored one of Los Angeles' three runs on left fielder Charlie Culberson's ninth-inning error. Young was acquired from Philadelphia on Saturday."We have tons of talent in this room," pitcher Ricky Nolasco said. "Veterans, young guys, to be able to give a couple guys breathers and have other guys step up is huge. Everybody comes in ready to play, and when you have depth like that, it's huge for the team."With Puig's status uncertain, Volquez (9-10, 5.97 ERA) will try to keep the Dodgers rolling after signing a one-year deal on Friday.Volquez was an All-Star in 2008 with Cincinnati and San Diego's opening day starter in each of the last two seasons. He was released Aug. 27 after going 9-10 with a 6.01 ERA in 27 starts for the Padres.Volquez is making this spot start to help the Dodgers give their rotation a rest."I think the guy's got great stuff," Mattingly told the team's website. "I don't know what happened in San Diego, but he's a lot like Carlos (Marmol, another reclamation project). Guys with quality stuff. He's struggled, but we know it's in there somewhere."Volquez draws a difficult matchup in this outing -- he's 0-5 with a 12.46 ERA in his last six starts against the Rockies (65-75). He is 0-4 with a 13.08 ERA in five matchups this season and 0-1 with a 22.95 ERA in his last two starts in Colorado.If that wasn't enough, Volquez is facing NL wins co-leader Jorge De La Rosa (15-6, 3.33), who is seeking a sixth consecutive victory. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last six home starts and gave up three runs over six innings in a 9-6 victory over visiting Cincinnati on Friday despite an ailing thumb."It's a little sore," De La Rosa told the team's website. "It bothered me since the first inning; just have to keep pitching and help the team to win as much as I can."De La Rosa is 1-8 with a 6.14 ERA in 11 career starts against the Dodgers but earned that win in his most recent matchup. He allowed two runs over seven innings in a 7-2 victory June 2 at Coors Field.De La Rosa would love to get some help from Carlos Gonzalez, 5 for 7 with two triples and two doubles this season versus Volquez, but the outfielder is dealing with a finger injury. Gonzalez was activated from the disabled list Tuesday but it's unknown how much he'll play the rest of the season.Dexter Fowler (6 for 10), Todd Helton (4 for 8) and Wilin Rosario (5 for 11) have also played significant roles in the Rockies' success against the Dodgers' right-hander this year.