Don Mattingly has been making a lot of trips to the pitchers mound this season. Well, at least when Clayton Kershaw isn’t pitching.
The embattled Los Angeles Dodgers‘ skipper is making the visits at the right time; the problem is, he doesn’t have anyone to call out of the bullpen to save the day.
As of now, L.A. is okay in the closer department; they have a more-than-serviceable Brandon League. But better yet, they have Kenley Jansen, who is just waiting to get the official call as the Dodger’s shutdown guy.
Both can be dominant when the blue crew has the lead and the game is in the ninth. There, within, lies the problem. Mattingly cannot get his team to the ninth with a lead with the bullpen he has.
How can a MLB manager confidently go to the mound and tap his left or right arm, signaling which pitcher he wants when he believes in neither one? This is a problem that is becoming increasingly evident for the Dodgers. One of those not-as-glaring-of-a-problem-as-our-superstar-slugger-having-only-one-homerun type of problems.
The Dodgers went farther south — and I don’t mean in the NL West — on Friday when they traveled to Georgia to play the Atlanta Braves. They could have won the game.
Hyun Jin Ryu pitched good enough in Hotlanta to get the win. Young slugger Scott Van Slyke did his part with two home runs, but the Dodgers could not hold the lead.
As the season rolls on, starters will need to have their pitch counts monitored more than ever. Kershaw cannot throw 132 pitches every fifth game and expect to lead the Dodgers back into postseason contention.
Donny Baseball needs a friend. An old reliable — or two — he can call with confidence to get six or seven outs until he can go out for Jensen or League on his last trip.
Otherwise, big nights at the plate by an exciting upstart like Van Slyke, or any Dodger hitter for that matter, will be overshadowed by the bullpen collapsing and costing L.A. chances to make ground in the division.