Los Angeles Dodgers Need a Clear-Cut Closer
The Los Angeles Dodgers made their official announcement on Christmas Eve of signing two-time former All-Star Chris Perez and aged journeyman Jamey Wright. With the news came an interesting revelation from the organization’s General Manager, Ned Colletti, who expressed the intention to have both Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson close games in 2014. In the Dodgers’ press release on the Perez signing, Colletti is quoted as saying, “We see [Perez] adding depth and experience to our bullpen and while Kenley and Brian will close game….”
The problem with this statement is that it subtly portrays a sense of distrust in either Wilson or Jansen. If the organization had 100% faith in one of the two closers, they would select one and ride him until he gives them a reason to hop off. In all likelihood, the dishonor of this distrust goes to Jansen who was the club’s closer in the past, then lost the job but won it back after Brandon League cracked like a mirror meeting a hammer.
Despite being simply fantastic as the Dodgers’ closer in 2013, Jansen has been moved to the side as a tag-team duo with Wilson. A rational baseball fan would likely look at Jansen’s 28 saves, 1.88 ERA, 0.861 WHIP and 111 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched in 2013 and believe him to be a surefire lock to keep his closing duties.
I do not necessarily have a problem with the idea of the Dodgers replacing Jansen as the closer with Wilson; that would be fine, as long as there was a clear-cut decision made. Wilson certainly proved himself worthy of trust, even in his short stint with the Dodgers at the end of last season. A 0.66 ERA and a 0.878 WHIP in his 18 strong appearances in 2013 certainly gave the Dodgers enough evidence to believe Wilson was well enough recovered from his Tommy John surgery to be trusted with the closer’s role.
The issue is the indecision from the organization and if Colletti’s plan is to use the two closers equally, the team will be making a mistake. Using Wilson from time to time to give Jansen a rest is fine; MLB teams do that all the time as their go-to guy cannot go every day. Mixing the two in evenly, however, is just asking for trouble and could seriously mess with the psyche of these two great pitchers. More than likely, it would affect Jansen the most as he is the younger and less experienced closer . The Dodgers should pick a closer and stick with him in order to maximize their success in 2014.