Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’ll switch hearts with Kenley Jansen if that will help at all.
Who is going to close?
I am sure you have heard by now that Kenley Jansen is going to miss some games because of a recurrence of the irregular-heartbeat problem that has caused him to sit out games in the past. He could be back next week, he could be back in a month, he could be out even longer. It all depends on how he reacts to treatment. Blood thinners are usually given to people in this situation, and he can’t pitch while he is on blood thinners because if he was hit by a line drive, he could very easily bleed to death.
So the most important thing in this situation is for Jansen to get healthy and not rush back to help the team. We all want him back when it is safe for him to return. In the meantime, the Dodgers are now without a closer. And, as we saw in the first two games in which they needed him, there aren’t a lot of good candidates on the team.
As I see it, the Dodgers have three options:
1. Go with closer by committee. But as we have already seen, that doesn’t seem to be the solution.
2. Trade for a closer. Unfortunately, those are in short supply and the person would have to clear waivers first. That seems unlikely, though remotely possible.
3. Make Kenta Maeda the closer.
For me, it’s a no-brainer to go with No. 3. Maeda showed in last season’s playoffs that he can thrive in the bullpen, giving up five hits and two walks in 10.2 innings, striking out 10 and allowing only one run. He was able to let loose with his fastball, because he knew he didn’t have to pitch more than an inning, and he looked like a closer out there.
The Dodgers announced on Sunday that Maeda and Ross Stripling will move to the bullpen while Jansen is out. They didn’t say if either would become the de facto closer, but let’s hope they do the right thing and use Stripling and Scott Alexander as set-up men and Maeda as the closer.
This brings up something that I found frustrating over the weekend (aside from the losses). Saturday night, Dave Roberts did some baffling things.
The Dodgers have said all season that they want to conserve Walker Buehler’s innings to protect his arm. I’m not a fan of that strategy, but if you want to conserve his arm, why do the following? Buehler pitched seven strong innings on Saturday, holding the Rockies scoreless. He had thrown 103 pitches, and it looked like he wasn’t going to pitch any longer. Instead, Buehler is sent out there to warm up in the eighth. Then Roberts calls him back and brings in a reliever to start the eighth. Why send Buehler out there to warm up at all? If you needed to buy time for the reliever to warm up more, that’s just poor game management.
Then Caleb Ferguson pitches an impressive eighth and is removed because they wanted to limit him to one inning. OK, maybe he was sore or there was something going on we don’t know about. Alexander comes in to start the ninth. Alexander has been one of their most effective relievers the last few weeks, with a 1.62 ERA in 16.2 innings, with 18 strikeouts. He strikes out a batter looking, then gives up a double to Trevor Story. Nolan Arenado comes up. Roberts brings in J.T. Chargois. He hits Arenado with a pitch, gets Ian Desmond out, then gives up a game-ending homer to Ryan McMahon. A left-handed hitter.
Why not leave Alexander in the game? Let Alexander pitch to Arenado, don’t give him anything good to hit, and if he walks him, he walks him. Then, left-hander Alexander is facing the right-handed Ian Desmond, the left-handed McMahon and the .225-hitting Chris Iannetta. You also build up Alexander’s confidence. Instead, you’re basically telling him he’s not good enough to get Arenado and that we’d rather have Chargois pitch to Arenado-Desmond-McMahon-Iannetta than you.
Chargois has pitched well recently too, but I am a firm believe that the more pitchers you bring into a game, the more likely you are to find a pitcher who doesn’t have his best stuff that day.
And I was saying this before Chargois gave up the homer. Leave Alexander in the game. Sometimes a manager has to think psychologically out there, and not just go with what the computer tells you. Otherwise, fire the manager, put a computer in the dugout and a coach can read a printout of what the computer says to do.
Oh, and one final note that may have gotten lost with the weekend implosion: Stop bringing in Pedro Baez in key situations. Just stop.
In fairness, all this shouldn’t be laid at Roberts’ feet. He can only use the pitchers he is given. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi rolled the dice again this year and haven’t found a guy to replace Brandon Morrow (who effectively replaced Joe Blanton).
But the only guys I want to see out there in the eighth and ninth inning with the score tied or the Dodgers ahead are Stripling, Alexander and Maeda.
Now that all of that is off my chest, let me say something to those who emailed to say the season is over. It’s not. It will be more difficult until Jansen returns, but if you have given up on the team and think they are done, you are making a mistake. A lot of people gave up when the team was 16-26. Then the Dodgers went to first place, and those fans jumped back on the bandwagon. That’s sort of sad. Don’t be one of those fans.
The new guys
Since joining the Dodgers here’s how the new guys are doing:
Brian Dozier, .286/.444/.629, 11 RBIs in 11 games.
Manny Machado, .264/.343/.407, five RBIs in 23 games
John Axford, 16.20 ERA
Schedules for the rest of the season
HOME (22): San Francisco (3), St. Louis (3), San Diego (6), Arizona (4), N.Y. Mets (3), Colorado (3).
AWAY (21): Colorado (3), Seattle (3), Texas (2), Cincinnati (3), St. Louis (4), Arizona (3), San Francisco (3).
HOME (20): Angels (2), Seattle (3), San Diego (2), Atlanta (4), Chicago Cubs (3), Colorado (3), Dodgers (3)
AWAY (23): Texas (2), San Diego (7), San Francisco (3), Dodgers (4), Colorado (4), Houston (3).
HOME (23): Dodgers (3), San Diego (3), St. Louis (3), San Francisco (3), Arizona (4), Philadelphia (4), Washington (3).
AWAY (21): Houston (2), Atlanta (4), Angels (2), San Diego (4), San Francisco (3), Dodgers (3), Arizona (3).
HOME (21): Texas (3), Arizona (3), N.Y. Mets (3), Atlanta (3), Colorado (3), San Diego (3), Dodgers (3).
AWAY (22): Dodgers (3), Cincinnati (3), N.Y. Mets (4), Colorado (3), Milwaukee (3), San Diego (3), St. Louis (3).
Breaking that down a little further gives us:
Remaining games against teams with winning record: 23
With losing record: 20
Remaining games against teams with winning record: 27
With losing record: 16
Remaining games against teams with winning record: 29
With losing record: 15
Remaining games against teams with winning record: 24
With losing record: 19
There’s still time to vote in our poll on which two numbers the Dodgers should retire. Click here to vote.
More KTLA games
For those of you who live in the L.A. area and are unable to see Dodgers games on TV, there are four games in August and one in September that will be televised on KTLA Channel 5. Those games are:
Wednesday vs. San Francisco, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 20 vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 31 vs. Arizona, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 4 vs. New York Mets, 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, there is no agreement between DirecTV and Spectrum SportsNet coming in the near future.
These names seem familiar
What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):
Charlie Culberson, Braves, .286/.330/.490, 122 OPS+.
Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 6-3, 4.92 ERA (currently on the 60-day DL with right knee tendinitis).
Yu Darvish, Cubs, 1-3, 4.95 ERA (currently on 60-day DL with an elbow injury)
Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .234/.333/.418, 106 OPS+
Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 22 saves, 1.47 ERA (currently on 10-day DL with right biceps tendinitis)
Tony Watson, Giants, 4-4, 2.31 ERA
Chris Hatcher, A's, 3-2, 4.24 ERA, Designated for assignment and removed from 40-man roster.
Luis Avilan, White Sox, 2-1, 3.63 ERA
Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .117/.162/.211 (removed from 40-man roster and sent to minors). Hitting .183/.262/.284 for triple-A Charlotte.
Wilmer Font, Rays, 2-3, 5.93 ERA (on 60-day DL with a lat strain)
Sergio Romo, Rays, 2-3, 3.57 ERA, 15 saves.
Logan Forsythe, Twins, .412/.459/.471, 155 OPS+
Monday, 7 p.m.: San Francisco (Madison Bumgarner, 4-4, 2.69 ERA) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 5-5, 2.58 ERA)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.: San Francisco (Andrew Suarez, 4-8, 4.64 ERA) at Dodgers (Alex Wood, 7-6, 3.58 ERA)
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: San Francisco (Derek Holland, 6-8, 3.97 ERA) at Dodgers (Hyun-jin Ryu (3-0, 2.12 ERA)
Yasmani Grandal to see more starts against left-handed pitchers. Read all about it here.