Much Needed Relief: L.A. Dodgers Bullpen Beginning to Look Brighter
Sometimes the good news arrives just in the nick of time.
After what can only be described as a massive struggle, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally getting some much needed relief in their fragile bullpen.
Rookie Kenley Jansen was called up from Double-A Chattanooga on Friday, and when he finally took to the mound on Saturday night, all the hype leading up to his debut was by no means exaggerated.
Jansen was very impressive in his first Major League appearance. He retired the heart of the New York Mets' lineup in order, and blew 98 mph fastballs past Angel Pagan and David Wright to record the first two strikeouts of his career.
Then, in a cameo performance on Sunday afternoon, Jansen recorded his first Major League save, and he once again set down three consecutive Mets' batters, striking out two.
There's no doubt he has created a buzz around Dodgertown.
"That felt awesome, amazing," Jansen said. "Just having fun out there. It’s just like a dream come true."
Jansen's appearance couldn't have arrived at a better time. Jonathan Broxton, one of the game's premiere closers, has been struggling recently. Since the All-Star break, he has allowed five earned runs and a total of six walks in only three appearances—very untypical numbers for Broxton. In two of those three appearances, games which the Dodgers could have easily won against the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, he registered the losses.
Due to Hong-Chih Kuo's injury history and questionable durability, his use is still being limited by manager Joe Torre. But with the arrival of Jansen, he may provide relief in setting up Broxton and Kuo, or he may even assume the closer role completely.
Regardless, the Dodgers now hope to feature higher quality pitching in the later innings of games.
The middle of the bullpen has been experiencing their share of hardship as well, and relief may be on the way soon in the form of one Ronald Belisario.
Belisario, who was reportedly participating in a substance abuse program, worked out at Dodger Stadium on Monday for the first time in 19 days.
Good news, as the trio of James McDonald, Travis Schlichting and Jack Taschner have not been getting the job done when called upon.
Belisario remains on the restricted list, and there's no timetable for his return. However, many expect him to take on a pitching rehab assignment in the coming days or weeks.
Dodger fans were hoping for some improvement from middle men Ramon Troncoso and Cory Wade, but Troncoso has compiled a 5.23 ERA since being demoted to Albuquerque, and Wade's ERA is 6.35 with the Isotopes after returning from almost a year long injury.
Still, if Belisario returns to the pen strong and healthy, it will provide the boost that the Dodgers need in middle of the bullpen.
General Manager Ned Colletti has been pursuing relief help for the Dodgers in the past few weeks, but with the latest developments with Jansen and Belisario, he may be able to shift his efforts back to the starting rotation.
The Dodgers have a day off on Monday, and resume play on Tuesday by opening up a three-game series against the division leading San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
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