It has been a whirlwind for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen this season. After beginning the season with the best ERA through the first month, the team has never looked the same since, especially after the All-Star break.
On Tuesday, the game was tied 1-1 after a brilliant seven innings performance from Clayton Kershaw. In the top half of the eighth inning, battery mate A.J. Ellis delivered with a clutch three-run home run. After a sense of calmness overcame the team that Kershaw was on path to get a victory, the bullpen fell apart in perhaps the toughest loss of the season.
For bullpen coach Chuck Crim, the reality check couldn’t have come at a worse time. A group that has been scrutinized all season long delivered a nightmare loss to a ball club in the midst of a pennant race. After the game, Crim stated how devastating the loss was, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
That was the tipping point,” said Crim. “I was up thinking about it all night.”
Pedro Baez surrendered three hits before being lifted for J.P. Howell. The left-handed pitcher then allowed two hits, permitting the runs to score, tying the game 4-4. After Jim Johnson struck out a hitter to end the threat in the eighth inning, the Dodgers called upon Yimi Garcia to extend the ballgame. In his first inning of work he did great, throwing a scoreless ninth inning; however, he unraveled in the 10th inning giving the Athletics the win on back-to-back hits.
Prior to the game on Wednesday, the bullpen group met on the field to have a pre-game meeting, addressing the mistakes following Tuesday’s heartbreaking loss. According to Mark Saxon’s of ESPN LA, Kenley Jansen seemed to be the leader:
The entire Dodgers bullpen is having a meeting near the right-field line. Kenley Jansen is doing a lot of talking. Coaches present.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) August 19, 2015
The main problem for the bullpen has been finding a way to get Kenley Jansen the ball so that he can close the game out. The closer has been 24-for-25 in save opportunities this season and passed Jeff Shaw for second all-time on the Dodgers’ save list in his last appearance.
On the season, Jansen has put forth a 2.48 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 150 ERA+, and 0.70 WHIP. The Curacao native has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14.75, with 59 strikeouts.