Dodgers’ Bullpen Faces Challenges Without Jansen

(Mandatory Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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.


12 thoughts on “Dodgers’ Bullpen Faces Challenges Without Jansen

  1. With Kenley out at least we have Baez to close now. We should be ok. As long as we have a 5 run lead when he comes in. How is this guy still in the organization? He melts down in every high leverage situations and can’t throw strikes. Just because you throw 97 doesn’t make you a pitcher. It’s like his fastball is a magnet to a metal bat!


      1. The question isn’t whether to choose Venditte or Baez. The question is, with about 712 relief pitchers having been available at the deadline, why is our choice Venditte or Baez? And, if you’re taking a vote amongst your readers Dennis, if the choice is those two I vote for Venditte. As Scoop has pointed out, Baez now seems to be a head case, going into each game just waiting for everything to fall down around him. But, as I asked above, why is the choice between those two guys when the A’s have picked up three or four relievers over the past couple of weeks, any of whom would be better than Venditte or Baez.


      2. We currently have 6-8 guys on the DL who are substantially better than Baez, Axford or Venditte. Cingrani, Fields, Urias, Wood, Ryu, Santana and I’m also going to include Hudson and Goeddel. I guess that’s where they’ll be filling the holes in the bullpen between now and the end of the year. The guys on MLB tv seem to think that Maeda will be our closer after tonight. If they aren’t going to use my suggestion of Kershaw, I guess Kenta’s as good a solution as anyone. If the starters who wind up in the bullpen can function well there, we could actually have a very strong relief corps.


      3. I’m really happy with what I’ve seen out of Floro also, but they’re putting Roberts in a horrible position because he’s basically got Alexander, Floro, Ferguson and Chargois, plus four guys he really doesn’t have the confidence to use in a tight game (Baez, Axford, Rosscup, Venditte). That’s no way to run a bullpen, especially since you know he’s going to have to use those last four at some point. We have a Battle Royal in the bullpen, The Fire Dept vs. The Arsonists.


  2. The best option with Ryu coming back is to make Maeda the closer and pay him his 2million in bonus money he would have gotten if he remained a starter


  3. For the time being I could see closer by computer. Everything decided by matchups in the 8th and 9th.

    In looking at Baez’ splits there are bizarre patterns existing in strata that are no doubt mined by FAZonian ‘puters. You have to search for them. Example: the #2 hitter in the order has a 1.376 OPS against him, #4 hitter .855, and #5 .541. Further: batters 1-2 .956 OPS, 3-6 .727, 7-9 non pitcher .782. His 7th inning OPS against is 1.446, 8th inning is .671, 9th inning 778. Here’s a weird one, 4th inning OPS against is .497, 5th inning .500. So…. computer may say start Ferguson/Ryu/Urias for 3, then Baez for 2, but maybe not against the top of the order….. oh, and go with a rotating 6 man rotation so we have reasonably rested starters for late September/October starts.

    I’ve read more than one article saying Kershaw is trending in the wrong direction – and you don’t need a computer to make that determination, a set of eyes with 20/60 vision can see that. Frankly none of our starters have me convinced they will finish strong.

    How we finish this? Beats me, but I can easily see this team limping to the finish line. I can also see some weird things actually working. It’s going to be interesting.


    1. What do the computers show regarding Baez’s splits against batters whose first name begins with a B and whose last name ends with a vowel other than e or u? And could you break that down for over 26 years of age and under please. Thanks.


  4. I take it math wasn’t your favorite subject Jeff. Mine wasn’t either. I was better with the letters than the numbers.

    But, like it or not, the organizational strategy going forward will be based on algorithms. Well, that and some blind squirrel luck. If we hit enough solo home runs early we can maybe survive the Baez Rosscup grass fires late.

    I know how my grandpa felt. I’m him now. Old school thinkers are out of date. Not useful.

    “Old and in the way, that’s what I heard them say, they used to heed the words he said, but that was yesterday. Gold will turn to gray, and youth will fade away, they’ll never care about you, call you old and in the way.”

    Ok, I gotta go prepare for a 10k race. Not the run, I owe a guy $10 thousand and I have to race to find the money. I’ll use algorithms. Not really. I made all that up. And I used mostly letters as I’m not good with numbers. Maybe I already said that.



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