Imagine this: you are Clayton Kershaw, one of the most effective starting pitchers in MLB. You have just reached the 99th-pitch mark and have given your team the lead by holding your opposition to one single run.
After watching a young aspiring closer effectively protect what you did for seven innings, you sit in support as your manager brings in another pitcher and erases all of your hard work, and your team eventually loses. Again.
This is one of the most glaring issues going down in Chavez Ravine. The Los Angeles Dodgers brought in expensive relief pitcher Brandon League last season because there was concern over Kenly Jansen’s inexperience and eventual recurring heart issue. At the time, that was a reasonable move.
Now that move is not helping the blue crew at all. As a matter of fact, it is hurting them. The struggling Dodgers need all the positive vibes they can muster these days, not blown saves and late inning collapses.
Kershaw, no doubt, has to be frustrated by this. After all, he is not on a rebuilding young team that is learning its way around the league. This is a veteran ballclub, and Kershaw is the pitcher of the times. He is not signed long-term and has refused to discuss contract extension during the season.
So, in a way, the Dodgers are playing with fire.
Manager Don Mattingly brings in League because his bosses paid a pretty penny for him. Having him sitting in the bullpen is not good business, even if it has become game-time suicide.
Something has to give. The L.A. front office has got to give Mattingly the nod to stop turning to League and go with Jansen if he feels it is right. Even if Jansen blows it, it won’t be any worse of a job than what League is doing.
Do this for your fans, Dodgers. Do this for Kershaw and for young sensations Hyun Jin-Ryu and Yasiel Puig. Choking up wins and sucking the energy out of your ace with an ineffective closer is no way to build a winning culture.