By Jon Weisman
Thanks to Friday’s shortened game, Saturday’s rainout and their overall efficiency, Dodger relievers enter the upcoming seven-game homestand having thrown only 42 pitches combined since Thursday and 165 in the past week.
Yimi Garcia’s nine pitches Sunday are his only action in the past seven days. Chris Hatcher is on six days’ rest. Paco Rodriguez hasn’t entered a game since a six-pitch outing five days ago.
Sergio Santos has been one of the hardest-working men in the bullpen for the past week — he was the only Dodger pitcher on the roadtrip to work back-to-back days. Yet even Santos has only thrown 41 pitches — 22 on Wednesday and 19 on Thursday.
He doesn’t seem too worried he is growing stale.
“For the most part, that just usually doesn’t last,” Santos said this afternoon. “You take your lumps when you get them, and you take your days off as you get those as well. It’s really about staying even-keeled and being ready.”
Like the other relievers, he has to find the balance between staying sharp and not overdoing his workout.
“So I’ve had three days off,” he said, “so what I’ll do today is I’ll play catch, and then I’ll probably throw a light 10-to-12-pitch bullpen, just something so I can get downhill. I can flip a couple sliders, throw some changeups and just get that work in. It’s more for the muscle memory. … and if I get to pitch tonight, I’ll still be fine.”
Another factor in the low workload is that the Dodgers have been carrying eight relievers. Ideally, according to Don Mattingly, that would go down to seven.
“It ties your hands a little bit when you go short a (position) player,” Mattingly said. “That’s an area that we have a few guys who have quite a bit of versatility, so it makes that easier, but still there are times .. you just make decisions differently. You might let a pitcher hit one more time, you may not pinch-hit in certain circumstances earlier in the game and just try to save your bullets.”
But with Kenley Jansen close to being activated (he has one more rehab outing scheduled for Wednesday) and 16 games in the next 17 days, it might be hard to make a bullpen cut.
“I think we always want to try to keep everybody rested and keep everybody fresh when they come out, give them the best chance to be successful,” Mattingly said. “Sometimes that happens; sometimes you go through a stretch where you’re into your bullpen a lot. Then there’s times when you’ve gotten good starting pitching, where your bullpen’s not getting that much use. You never know what’s going to happen over the next three or four days.