Closer Kenley Jansen will be out 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left foot to remove a growth. The front office has put out mixed signals on what they will do in the bullpen. Andrew Friedman said the team is having trade talks for relief pitching, but reiterated that they will look internally for a potential closer. On Thursday, pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training and manager Don Mattingly gave his take.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Mattingly doesn’t see a replacement as the ideal solution:
Mattingly: Doesn't necessarily have to be one guy who fills closer role in Jansen's absence. Play matchups in 7th 8th 9th innings #Dodgers
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 19, 2015
With a bullpen full of arms with different dynamics, the Dodgers aren’t necessarily suited to replace Jansen with just one guy. Other than Brandon League, none of the other relievers have had significant experience closing games in the Majors. Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher and others all have varying styles to their game, meaning Mattingly can play the later innings by ear and focus on specific matchups.
Mattingly is often criticized for his in-game management, specifically the bullpen, and it will be something new for the manager not to have a set closer. The depth in the bullpen will help, especially with the struggles that the bullpen had last season. Spring Training is going to be a battle between all the arms, and with the amount of young relievers and non-roster invitees, the coming weeks will be very crucial in determining who will be throwing in those later innings once the season starts.
Unless the Dodgers acquire an actual closer this spring, it appears Mattingly will have his work cut out for him once the starters are done.
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