The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2014 season with World Series aspirations behind a pitching staff led by reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and a bullpen bolstered by the signings of Jamey Wright and Chris Perez, and the re-signing of Brian Wilson. Four games into the season, the Dodgers bullpen has had multiple rough outings and lost Wilson to the disabled list.
Despite their early season struggles, following Tuesday’s win over the San Diego Padres, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly expressed optimism with the bullpen moving forward, according to the Associated Press via ESPN LA:
We’ve had one bad inning, really. We’re getting it done, but it’s just a little rough right now, he said. It’s not as smooth as it can be. Confident with our guys I think as we get into the normal work, normal days, we’ll be OK.
What inning Mattingly referred to is unclear. However, the Dodgers bullpen has arguably had three bad innings thus far. The troubles started in game two of the Opening Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Dodgers holding a comfortable 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Jose Dominguez was on the mound and allowed two runs to score on a single after issuing back-to-back walks. Dominguez was then replaced by Paul Maholm, who struck out the only batter he faced. Kenley Jansen then came on and gave up a two-run home run to Mark Trumbo.
The issues flew back to U.S. with the Dodgers when on Sunday, Wilson uncharacteristically gave up a game-tying solo home run and two more runs in the eighth inning, allowing the Padres to take the lead. Jansen then found himself back in the fire when he loaded the bases in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s win. The closer was able to get himself out of the jam, but the performance was not typical with what Mattingly has come to expect from his hard-throwing right-hander.
With Wilson set to be unavailable for at least the next 15 days, coupled with Mattingly’s propensity to heavily rely on his relievers, more pressure will be placed on Jansen, Perez and Paco Rodriguez to anchor the back end of the bullpen and rectify the late-inning issues that have plagued the Dodgers.
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