While the Los Angeles Dodgers rolled into the National League Division Series in good health and with a lineup that featured multiple threats.
However, one question mark that hovered over the Dodgers as postseason play began was their bullpen. Manager Don Mattingly made the decision to carry eight relievers on his NLDS roster, including rookies Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias.
While having the extra arm as opposed to another position player gives Mattingly additional flexibility in utilizing the relievers, it doesn’t necessarily solve the eighth-inning problem. Last year, Brian Wilson emerged as Kenley Jansen’s setup man. Wilson wasn’t the same this season, which led to Mattingly relying on multiple relievers for eighth-inning situations.
During a press conference prior to Friday’s Game 1, Mattingly said he would consider going to Jansen in the eighth inning, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
You’re going to do what you have to do to win games at this point. These guys didn’t come this far and go, ‘Oh, I’m tired, I really don’t want to get five outs, Donnie.’ They’re going to go, ‘I want to win.’ So, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The situation didn’t present itself Friday as the Dodgers saw their 6-2 lead turn into a 10-6 deficit in a matter of one inning. Jansen was called on four times in the eighth inning this season and earned a save in three of the outings.
Two of Jansen’s 28 saves last season came with him pitching in the eighth, though he’s quite familiar with the inning considering he spent the early portion of the 2013 as a setup man for Brandon League.
Despite Mattingly stating he would use Jansen one inning early, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll automatically go to that option. His managerial track record suggests he’ll first take into account matchups that could entail using J.P. Howell, or perhaps Wilson or League, before Jansen.