For all the money the Dodgers have spent building their 2013 roster — about $230 million when the regular season began — they didn’t have a single pitcher available if last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers had gone to the 12th inning.
That’s not exactly unusual. If taxed enough, any bullpen will run out of arms. The Dodgers didn’t even get to the 10th inning yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly had to line up his possibilities when the Dodgers had runners on second and third base with two outs in the ninth inning.
“I’ve got to bring Josh (Wall) back out” for the 10th inning, Mattingly said. “I’ve got one (inning) with Kenley (Jansen). Then it’s Schu.”
Schu is Skip Schumaker, the veteran infielder/outfielder who pitched one inning of one game on August 23, 2011 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Coincidentally, that game was against the Dodgers. Aaron Miles hit a two-run home run off Schumaker and the Dodgers won 13-2. If you already forgot about Skip Schumaker’s brief pitching career, you’re forgiven.
This doesn’t constitute a dire situation but it highlighted a glaring weakness in the Dodgers’ bullpen. With Chris Capuano and Stephen Fife on the disabled list, Ted Lilly in the rotation, and Matt Magill up from Triple-A making emergency starts, the Dodgers are out of long relievers. Only four weeks ago they started the season with two, Capuano and Aaron Harang.
Is that an area of concern?
“A little bit, because we don’t have that guy who can go three, four innings,” Mattingly said.
They’ll get Capuano back within the next couple weeks, barring an unexpected setback in his recovery from a strained calf muscle. Magill is still on the active roster, but he’s 23 and the Dodgers would prefer to keep him on a starter’s track. Fife will also probably return to Triple-A once he’s recovered from a bout of bursitis in his right shoulder. Zack Greinke’s expected return from a fractured collarbone in June should restore some equilibrium to the pitching staff.
In the meantime, who’s the Dodgers’ long reliever?
One name to keep an eye on is Javy Guerra. Guerra began last season as the Dodgers’ closer, but has been starting at Triple-A Albuquerque this season. He threw five innings on Friday and has been taking advantage of a four-pitch repertoire that’s more befitting a starter than a reliever.
“He’s a guy that’s been stretched out,” Mattingly said. “He’s part of the discussion. It’s all about how we try to put this thing together the right way.”
Guerra is 0-2 with a 4.02 earned-run average in four starts. He’s struck out 16 and walked seven in 15 ⅔ innings.