Sometimes things go exactly as hoped, and sometimes they just zigzag all over. Left behind is a puzzle with very uncertain pieces.
Of all the issues the
The Dodgers had six weeks of camp and ample replacement candidates, and the hope was that one would separate himself from the pack and win the interim closer's job.
But with the Dodgers opening the season Monday, they remain very much a team without a closer. They remain a team without a designated eighth-inning guy. And even a team without a set bullpen.
That's a lot of uncertainty for a team with championship aspirations.
"We'll just play it out," Mattingly said. "You have to stay tuned. It's fluid."
For the most part, the Dodgers' veteran relievers have struggled this spring while several young arms have been impressive. Impressive in a
Though none has had a particularly strong spring, veterans
And then there are young arms Yimi Garcia (0.87 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings), Adam Liberatore (no runs in 11 games) and Pedro Baez (5.40), who in this tight competition might have pitched himself off the team Friday when he surrendered a grand slam to Albert Pujols in the fifth inning of the
Plus, there are veterans
But is there a closer in the house?
"I just don't think it's that important," said General Manager Farhan Zaidi. "That plays itself out over the course of the season."
Some had hoped Santos, a former
Mattingly said that without a set closer, the ninth inning will become situational. And his bullpen will probably have two left-handers (Howell, Rodriguez) and possibly three (Huff or Liberatore).
"I'm OK with seven lefties if they get outs," Mattingly said.
Howell said no one in the bullpen is concerned about who closes; they want to pitch regardless of the inning.
"We want that mentality," he said. "We don't want, 'Oh, it's only the sixth. I get to chill.' We don't want that anymore. That's how failure happens. That's how tentativeness becomes more prevalent. We need that to be done. From the fifth on, be ready to pitch. You've got next inning."
"It could be," Mattingly said. "Van Slyke's gonna play. There are going to be times he'll play out there [in left], there will be times he'll be able to give Adrian [Gonzalez] a day [at first base]. But Carl hit lefties pretty good last year so I can't say that I want to just flat out do it."
Crawford batted .321 against left-handers in 2014, with a .381 on-base and .500 slugging percentage.