The Dodgers‘ pitching staff has been hit with a lot of injuries this year, but none as serious as the latest. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen is expected to miss about a month due to an irregular heartbeat.
During Thursday night’s game at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, it was announced that Jansen would not be available due to an illness. Later in the game, word came that Kenley was flying back to Los Angeles to see his cardiologist and would be unavailable for the rest of the Rockies series. Today, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN that Jansen will miss about a month as he undergoes treatment.
So what does this do to the state of the Dodgers bullpen? Losing the anchor at the end of it is a huge loss, especially during a playoff push. Fans of the Dodgers have long been wary of the bullpen and of manager Dave Robert’s use of it.
Case in point, last night in Denver. Pedro Baez came into a tied game in the seventh inning and promptly gave up four runs including a three-run homer. Granted, the bullpen was pretty much depleted. Kenley was unavailable, most likely saving Scott Alexander and Dylan Floro for the eighth and ninth frames. John Axford had a brutal Dodger debut in Oakland. J.T. Chargois had pitched two days in a row. That left only Baez, Caleb Ferguson and Zac Rosscup. Roberts went with Baez and it ended badly.
Baez has had chances time and again to show what he’s capable of, but for some reason or another doesn’t quite accomplish it. One wonders how long his tenure with the big league team will be. Roberts’ M.O. is to have players play through whatever issues they may have, but with a bullpen down it’s most important piece already and in the midst of a tight playoff race, there really isn’t room for that.
So now the Dodgers bullpen is essentially down two pitchers. Fans were underwhelmed with who the Dodgers acquired at the trade deadline in regards to the bullpen. The aforementioned Axford was the only relief pitcher they got, and in his debut had, in his own words “the worst outing of my career.”
Pat Venditte, just sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City is probably on his way back up. As for others who could help, Daniel Hudson was just placed on the 10-day DL. Ferguson has been really good so far. Alexander and Floro have been steady. Chargois has been decent. But a month of relying just on them will wear them down.
Eventually, some starters could be moving to the ‘pen. Julio Urias and Hyun-Jin Ryu will be returning to the team in the next month or less, and will add to the surplus of starting pitchers. Until then, though, the Dodgers will have to do what they’ve done all season. Deal with newest hiccup, and move on. They’ve rallied when they’ve lost Kershaw for months and they can do it without Kenley. Or, the offense can just get crazy hot and they won’t have to worry about the bullpen. Whatever works.