Kenley Jansen’s heart arrhythmia has left the Dodgers without a closer. Who will fill the void?
“Beli [Ronald Belisario] has thrown the ball well. Brandon (League) has had success closing games. We’re probably go back and forth between those two,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Former Dodger closer Javy Guerra, who is currently at Triple-A Albuquerque, could also be in the mix once rosters expand Sept. 1. Mattingly said that rest will factor into his decision, meaning League is more likely to pitch the ninth inning if Belisario closed the night before.
League has struggled since he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on July 30, allowing six runs and walking five in nine innings. The veteran right-hander recorded 37 saves last year for the Mariners and nine more this season before losing the closer’s job to Tom Wilhelmsen.
Belisario has been consistent from the moment he was activated from the restricted list on May 3, going 3-1 with a 2.75 earned-run average in 50 games. His save Wednesday in Colorado was just the third of his career, but he’s tied for eighth in the National League with 21 holds.
“All year, I was thinking positive when I was out,” said Belisario, who did not pitch in 2011 and missed 25 games this year as a result of using cocaine.
This season opponents are hitting just .199 off Belisario’s sinker, which he throws 87 percent of the time. In years past he relied more on a four-seam fastball, but now “that one, that’s all I need,” he said, moving his right hand in a 90-degree angle to mimic the dart of a superb sinker.
“I have more control with it,” he said.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt believes that Belisario has the right makeup to close, if needed.
“Some guys approach that inning the same way that they pitch the ninth,” Honeycutt said. “That’s really what doesn’t happen most of the time up here.
“[Belisario] seems to have a ‘come-hit-me’ attitude, which is good. I do not think it would bother him. At the same time, we haven’t seen him for a long period of time. It’s how people respond after they’ve blown one, how they come back the next time.”