The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a number of issues preventing them from closing in on the final National League Wild Card spot, but the bullpen hasn’t been one of them. They now have a corps of relievers that can shutdown opposing lineups, should Los Angeles manage to reach the postseason.
The St. Louis Cardinals have rolled through a soft portion of their schedule, winning seven of eight games against the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs over the past week and a half. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has gone just 3-4 over during that time.
The Dodgers have had a significantly tougher schedule of late. L.A. still has two more games before completing a brutal nine-game road trip that’s forced them to face the NL co-leading Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds, as well as the resurgent San Diego Padres.
After building the best record in the major leagues through mid-June, the Dodgers’ season has come undone thanks to anemic bats and an injury-plagued roster. At least one of those injuries, however, has turned into a blessing for Los Angeles.
A reoccurring heart condition suffered by closer Kenley Jansen forced manager Don Mattingly to reshuffle his bullpen. With midseason acquisition Brandon League thriving in the closer’s role, Jansen has returned to being the lights-out setup man that he was in 2011.
Now the Dodgers, whose starting rotation has been hit the hardest by the injuries, have a bullpen that can stifle opposing lineups in the playoffs when the team reach the seventh inning with a lead.
Here’s a look at how their bullpen sets up leading into the 2012 MLB playoffs.