Monday, May 13, 2013

It's time: the Dodgers need to replace Brandon League with Kenley Jansen

OK, it might be time for the Dodgers to make a change. I'm not talking about firing Don Mattingly (yet), I'm talking about switching closers.

I wasn't against the Brandon League signing, even when everyone else seemingly was. I've stated that on multiple occurrences. I've never said he's better than Kenley Jansen, just that I was for his signing. Now, I'm not so sure.

League came into a 5-1 game on Sunday. All he had to do is get three outs in a non-save situation, yet he proceeded to allow two runs, making the game much closer than it should have been. Side note: Chris Capuano was fantastic in this game. That's encouraging to see.

But back to League. I noted his ineffectiveness just a little more than a couple weeks ago. His velocity was down from 2012 (still is) and he's just not getting the job done.

League finished play Sunday with a 6.28 ERA. I know ERA isn't the best determiner of value -- especially for a reliever -- but the number and just watching League doesn't inspire confidence. He's allowed three home runs and 16 hits in 14 1/3 innings. His home run-to-fly-ball ratio is 21.4 percent, meaning for every five fly balls he allows, one is a homer. The league-average is 10.6 percent. Oy. And he isn't striking guys out. He has just seven on the season (4.4 K/9). That's no good.

League has only had three 1-2-3 innings in his 14 appearances. For comparisons sake, Orioles' closer Jim Johnson has 10 1-2-3 innings in his 19 appearances. Jansen has just three 1-2-3 innings, but he also has three additional outings in which he faced the minimum number of batters.

It isn't all about 1-2-3 innings, but League's propensity to allow baserunners, coupled with subpar stuff in 2013, should worry the Dodgers.

Jansen is having a great season so far. He's decreased his walk rate to a career-low 2.3 per nine innings. In the process, he's allowing a few more hits -- 5.9 H/9, a career-high -- but that's still a fantastic rate.

And the most important thing: Jansen is a better pitcher. There's no denying that fact. This will limit his availability to the ninth inning (and sometimes the eighth), but there aren't six more Kenley Jansen's in the Dodger bullpen. But keep an eye on Paco Rodriguez. He's pitching well and it seems Mattingly is trusting him a bit more these days.

This will be the second year in a row Jansen will have supplanted the team's opening day closer. It's kinda his thing.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

1 comment:

  1. Why not just assign certain relief pitchers to certain parts of the batting order? For example, if its the 8th inning and a teams 2-3-4 batters are up put Kenley Jansen against them. If its 8th inning and a teams 6-7-8 batters are up throw League in there.