Kenley Jansen and Dodgers' bullpen getting worrisome workload

When is there too much of a good thing?

When it wears down and breaks. There are only so many miles you can put on that ’62 Corvette and the arms of relievers.

Kenley Jansen currently leads all major league pitchers in appearances with 13. Tied for second with 11 are J.P. Howell and Chris Perez, and tied next with numerous others is Jamey Wright with 10 appearances.

All four, you just might have noticed, are Dodgers.

This is not a formula for prolonged success, and the Dodgers claim to be keenly aware of that. Jansen has appeared in three of their last four games, earning saves in all of them. He’s tied with Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez for the major league lead in saves (seven).

The Dodgers' heavy use of their bullpen is due to starters seldom lasting more than six innings (only once has a starter pitched into the eighth) and the Dodgers having a seven-day break between games after opening in Australia and five days off between their next 12 games.

They are now in a 29-game stretch with only one off-day, so things will have to change. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly admitted there would be concern should he continue to use Jansen at his current pace.

Which means starters best begin to get stretched out. Not easy to do when Josh Beckett is coming off surgery, Zack Greinke was held back early because of injury and Paul Maholm has been bounced back and forth between starter and reliever.

It needs to happen, though, just as relievers Brian Wilson and Brandon League need to show they’re reliable to make bullpen distribution closer to equal.

Jansen has only pitched a total of 11 innings and has yet to pitch in three consecutive days. Still, a red flag has clearly been issued and the time to address it is now, in April, before it comes back to hurt at the end of the season.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World