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Dodgers' Javy Guerra is hard to evaluate

The rookie reliever is 10 for 10 in save opportunities, but he has been in few high-pressure situations. Guerra could be in line to become the Dodgers' closer next season.

August 06, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers relief pitcher Javy Guerra did not allow a single baserunner in six of his 10 saves this season.
Dodgers relief pitcher Javy Guerra did not allow a single baserunner in… (Jake Roth / US Presswire )

Reporting from Phoenix — Javy Guerra went into Saturday a perfect 10 for 10 in save opportunities. The 25-year-old rookie right-hander had a 1.69 earned-run average.

"He has a calmness to him," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.

But how can you truly measure the inner workings of a reliever who pitches mostly in front of half-empty ballparks in games with little or no postseason implications?

"You can't put the step in front of somebody when it's not available," Colletti said. "But he's gaining enough confidence that if he makes the transition to a bigger stage, a pivotal game, you believe he's prepared to do it."

With Jonathan Broxton injured and headed to free agency this winter, Colletti will have to decide whether to sign a free-agent closer this off-season or to hand the role to Guerra or Kenley Jansen.

Manager Don Mattingly said that when evaluating Guerra, he doesn't consider the Dodgers' position in the standings or the number of empty seats in the stands.

"As a young player you want to show what you can do," Mattingly said. "These are playoff games for him."

Plus, Mattingly pointed out that Guerra has so far responded well to the few pressure situations that have presented themselves.

On July 8, Guerra inherited a 1-0 lead against the San Diego Padres and started the ninth inning by loading the bases. He struck out the next two batters and forced the third to line out to center.

"As much as I hated to see it develop like that, I thought, 'You know what? We're going to learn about Javy Guerra in the next 10 minutes.' " Colletti said.

A week later, Guerra inherited another 1-0 lead, this time in front of a capacity crowd in San Francisco. He retired the side.

But Guerra has largely avoided trouble. In six of his 10 saves, he didn't allow a single baserunner.

"It's been 1-2-3, for the most part," Mattingly said. "He's not walking people."

In the Dodgers' 7-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night, Guerra did something he had never previously done: he recorded a four-out save.

In interviews, Guerra has sounded careful not to overstep his boundaries, refusing to even say he knows he is capable of closing at the major league level.

"I'm confident I can go out there and pitch," he said. "That's all I can do."

Kuroda receives a letter

Hiroki Kuroda has never attended the Dodgers' Sunday chapel services, so he said he was surprised when he received a letter from the team chaplain last week.

The chaplain, Brandon Cash, applauded Kuroda for refusing to waive his no-trade clause and deciding to finish the season with the Dodgers. Cash wrote of his appreciation of the Japanese culture.

"Our culture would be better if we had more appreciation for the good of the group to which we belong," Cash wrote.

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