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The Blue Rollercoaster

Dave Randall

Posted on August 26, 2018 21:44

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An L.A. Dodger return to the World Series will take a furious finish--and a better effort from the bullpen

A year ago, Sports Illustrated celebrated the Los Angeles Dodgers with a cover story, headlined, "BEST.TEAM.EVER?" They were on a pace for 121 wins. Then came September, an 11 game losing streak, a recovery, a mad dash through the post-season-the NLDS and a sweep of Arizona; The NLCS and elimination of the Cubs in five games. In Game One of the World Series versus Houston, Clayton Kershaw looked like Koufax (and was greeted by Sandy in the clubhouse afterward).

The stage was set for one of the greatest World Series ever played, reminiscent of a series now fading from memories--the 1960 clash between the Yanks and the Pirates. It went seven games, but really ended in the 9th inning of Game Two. Leading 3-2 with two out and two strikes on the Astros' George Springer, all-star Dodger closer Kenley Jansen threw a cutter that didn't cut, and gave up a game-tying home run. Houston went on to an extra-inning win, evening the series, but, truly, it was over.

To be honest, the team hasn't been the same since that game. It's always difficult to repeat as league champion, but for L.A., 2018 started with Justin Turner sidelined by a fractured wrist. Shortstop Corey Seager is out for Tommy John surgery, until the  middle of next season. Kershaw's been out for his bicep and back. April and May were miserable.

Then things picked up. Max Muncie, an acquisition from Oakland who spent 2017 in the minors, was called up to play infield. As of August 26, he has 29 home runs, a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

After most of June, all of July, and the first week of August atop the National League West, with a new second baseman (Brian Dozier, from Minnesota), and shortstop (Manny Machado, from Baltimore for five anonymous prospects), another World Series looked possible.

The problem is, the Dodgers' vaunted front office was still smiling from happy accident that saw Matt Kemp be Matt Kemp again, and lead a team many thought he'd not be with by the end of Spring Training. That must be the excuse, otherwise there would be another reason they failed to pick up a quality reliever.

L.A. has employed a carousel of reclamation projects for middle relief, an inexpensive move, with mixed results. There's always a shuttle of ragged arms from the Dodgers to the minors to the disabled list and back. The rock was Jansen--until his previous heart problem surfaced in Colorado. Without Jansen, the bullpen blew nine straight leads.

In the last week, a now healthy Jansen gave up 4 homers and blew three saves in three tries. All this while L.A. has alternately bombed Seattle and San Diego with homers, and left the bases loaded at an alarming rate. 

Acquiring relievers with ERAs calculated in acres must stop. Inconsistencies at the plate must end. Or Blue won't be a color, but L.A.'s mood, come October.

Dave Randall

Posted on August 26, 2018 21:44

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Source: Yahoo Sports

With several big names still unsigned, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen criticised MLB teams.

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