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By Jon Weisman
Famous last words before Monday’s game …
The best thing about this taxing roadtrip was probably this: no extra-inning games.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 22, 2014
Despite seven excellent innings from Dan Haren, who allowed one hit and one earned run, the Dodger bullpen was still forced to throw six more innings in what became a 5-2, 13-inning loss to the Giants.
Dodger relievers have averaged 97 pitches over the past eight games, and 144 over the past two (click to enlarge).
The result of this is that even if Zack Greinke pitches seven or eight innings tonight, the Dodgers might be without Kenley Jansen, who has thrown 44 pitches in the past two days. Perhaps, however, the Dodgers would make Jansen available tonight, knowing that they have a favorable matchup Wednesday with Clayton Kershaw against Tim Hudson, followed by an off day Thursday.
Paco Rodriguez and Pedro Baez, who seem to be emerging as go-to relievers for the Dodgers, should also be available tonight after finishing a two-days-on, one-day-off cycle. And then there’s Chris Perez, who improbably has been one the Dodgers’ most effective relievers this month, throwing seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and two hits allowed. Perez has walked four in that time, however.
The Dodger defense played a big role in extending Monday’s game. Three errors forced the pitching staff into making extra pitches, with the Matt Kemp-Yasiel Puig miscommunication contributing directly to the Giants’ second run. On the flip side, the Dodgers’ night would have ended two innings sooner if Puig hadn’t fired off this spectacularly accurate throw to preserve the tie in the 11th.
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“A thing of beauty, and a joy forever, to be blessed with an arm like that.” — Vin Scully
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 23, 2014
The Dodgers, and their bullpen in particular, could use a laugher, but with Giants ace Madison Bumgarner throwing tonight, odds are against that happening. Monday’s game was a heartstopper, and tonight might be little different.
Right now we probably have the best Dodger team we’ve ever had in recent years. We are on the brink of clinching at least a tie for the NL West. There’s very little chance of going 0-5 to close out the regular season and even then we’ll make the wild card playoff game.
That said, we haven’t won anything yet.
It’s Greinke tonight and Kershaw tomorrow.
OBF, the O needs to show it can hit playoff caliber pitching for me to be convinced this is the better team than the 2009 version. That team had a bullpen I had more confidence in, albeit the starters are better than Wolf, 2009 Kershaw, Padilla, and Kuroda (Bills was in the pen in the playoffs) with 2014 Kershaw, Greinke, Haren the last 6 weeks, and hopefully a healthy Ryu.