Jonathan Broxton Injured: Los Angeles Dodgers Need a New Closer

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 5, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 25:  Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on April 25, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ken Gurnick of (click here for the article) is reporting that “Jonathan Broxton admitted to the Dodgers on Wednesday that his right elbow hurts and he’s been shut down for an MRI and possible other testing.”

Considering his statistics thus far in 2011, this news really shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

While he’s only blown one save (he’s 7-of-8), he’s done so with a 5.68 ERA, 1.89 WHIP and pedestrian 7.11 K/9. Broxton had posted a double-digit K/9 each season since making his Major League debut, so the realization that something is wrong is not earth shattering.

The question for fantasy owners is, who will get the bulk of the save opportunities in Broxton’s absence? Let’s look at the candidates and see where there could be value:

Hong-Chih Kuo – He inherited the job from Broxton in 2010, but has just recently returned from the DL and didn’t look so good in his first outing (4 ER in just 0.1 innings). 

He did take a step in the right direction yesterday afternoon, striking out 2 in an inning of work. Given his success in 2010 (21 saves in 22 chances), you have to think Kuo would ultimately settle into the role.

Vicente Padilla He’s actually picked up a save already, though Gurnick notes that manager Don Mattingly will not go to Padilla on back-to-back days. He should get a few opportunities, but with the restrictions he just doesn’t seem to be a fit long-term.

Matt Guerrier – He has gotten things going, but he just doesn’t seem like an ideal candidate to close. He does not have the typical skill-set with a 6.06 K/9 (and a career mark of 5.92).

He’s never had more than one save in a season, so it’s hard to imagine him getting very many looks.

Blake Hawksworth – It feels like a stretch to consider him a potential option, though he was mentioned by Mattingly in Gurnick’s article. He’s benefited from a lot of luck thus far (.217 BABIP, 84.5% strand rate), so don’t look for him to get much of a look.

Mike MacDougal – He’s had over 20 saves in a season three separate times, including as recently as 2009. He has also been lights-out thus far, with a 0.96 ERA. Of course, he’s another low strikeout option (5.79 K/9), and he has awful control (4.82 BB/9 in ’11, 4.81 for his career).

That type of skill-set is not conducive to ninth inning success and it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers trusting him in crunch time.

Kenley Jansen – He is the ultimate sleeper, considering he’s currently in the minor leagues. I know he had a 7.43 ERA in 13.1 innings prior to his demotion, but the majority of that came courtesy of two outings.

He was extremely impressive in 2010 (0.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 41 K in 27.0 innings) and when he is recalled, he would certainly be an intriguing option.

To me, it appears that Kuo is the most obvious answer, while Vicente Padilla will also get a look.  However, with Padilla not being used in back-to-back days and Kuo battling his own injuries (and struggles), don’t underestimate the potential for Jansen to emerge.


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