Wilson made 61 appearances in 2014, all but six of which came in the eighth inning or later. He began the season as the primary set-up man to Kenley Jansen, but finished the season as more of a situational eighth-inning reliever. Wilson struggled to retire left-handed hitters all season (.914 OPS) and blew four of the five save opportunities he was given.
Dodgers middle relievers have allowed six runs in the first three games of the National League Division Series. That’s prompted some questions about whether Kenley Jansen should come out to start the eighth inning in a potential save situation.
Jansen wouldn’t rule it out Tuesday:
The Dodgers will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players on their roster for the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here is the complete roster:
Call it rational thought, but when Carlos Frias arrived in the Dodgers’ clubhouse in August, the tendency was to force the rookie pitcher into a limited array of roles.
Emergency spot starter.
Long reliever, preferably during an inconsequential blowout.
That’s what happens to 24-year-old rookies who had never pitched above Double-A baseball prior to the current year, who had an ERA in the fives during his first Triple-A season, right?
Until recently, the comparisons between Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen were premature at best, superficial at worst.
Jansen converted from a catcher to a pitcher at age 21 in 2009. Two years later, he was pitching for the Dodgers.
Baez converted from a third baseman to a pitcher at age 24 in 2013. One year later, he was pitching for the Dodgers.
The key difference: It’s not an exaggeration to say that Jansen never struggled as a rookie. In his first 25 games with the Dodgers in 2010, he allowed two runs. Two.
A fan petition calling on the Dodgers and Time Warner cable to “broker a deal” with local cable providers and “stop the defacto blackout” of the club on local television has 491 signatures on the website FansRising.com.
The campaign is planning additional action to raise attention to the issue, according to a press release from Fans Rising. Comments left by fans reveal that multiple petition signers are elderly fans no longer able to attend games who can’t watch on television.
“I saw my first Dodger game at Ebbets Field in 1938 and have been a faithful fan ever since,” wrote Doris Schalk. “I am now 84 and unable to drive, so don’t get to many games anymore, but being able to watch them all these years has been a god-send. The radio guys are very good – BUT I miss my Vin AND my Dodgers.”
Some bullet points for a Hump Day:
The decision of who would pitch the ninth inning literally came down to the final moment. Had Adrian Gonzalez delivered an RBI in the final at-bat of the inning, Perez would have gotten the ninth. Instead, Gonzalez flied out to deep center field and Jansen got the ball. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save.
It was Jansen’s 15th appearance of the season, which leads the major leagues.
The fact that this was even a possibility, 15 days after the catcher had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, is a bit mind-boggling. Ellis has been taking batting practice regularly, caught Kershaw’s bullpen session Tuesday, and is running on an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill — the same one that got Matt Kemp in shape during spring training.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that the initial 4-6 week timetable is still in play for Ellis, but that could change soon enough.
In the meantime, a couple trends have emerged. Drew Butera has caught three of Zack Greinke‘s last four starts. The term “personal catcher” hasn’t entered the discussion yet, but the two have had high praise for each other and Mattingly might choose to keep them paired together, even after Ellis returns.
Tim Federowicz has caught 10 games to Butera’s six since Ellis went down, and has just four hits in 37 at-bats. Two of those hits have come since Paul Goldschmidt whacked him in the left hand over the weekend.
“Each day is getting better,” Federowicz said Wednesday. “Right now I’m really focused on my defense. Offense will come. I’m not worried about it.”
Can fans be so patient?
In spite of the fact that the two healthy catchers have a modest three-game hitting streak, Federowicz and Butera are still batting a combined .145 (8 for 55) since Ellis had his surgery. For his part, Ellis was batting just .167 (4 for 24) before going on the DL.
The Dodgers might have bigger problems than this one, so it’s flown a bit under the radar. Just don’t expect to see any catchers batting higher than eighth unless one, at last, catches fire.
Joc Pederson made a baseball disappear Tuesday, with an assist from a Triple-A cameraman.
Pederson hit his third home run of the young season (above) in the Albuquerque Isotopes’ win over the Reno Aces. We know only that the ball cleared the center-field fence in Reno, which is 410 feet from home plate. It’s an understatement to say that Pederson has taken quickly to the Pacific Coast League; he’s 8 for 17 (.471) with three homers, two doubles and two stolen bases in the first five games of the season.
No one needed a reminder of Pederson’s skill. He spent all of spring training with the Dodgers, traveling to Australia for the exhibition game against the Australian National Team. He hit three Cactus League home runs but also struck out 13 times in 38 at-bats. If anything, the PCL is serving as a confidence booster for the 21-year-old prodigy.