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Javy Guerra has earned the right to rebound as Dodgers closer

April 26, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers closer Javy Guerra prepares to throw a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12.
Dodgers closer Javy Guerra prepares to throw a pitch against the Pittsburgh… (Harry How / Getty Images )

A little eager, are you? Been waiting for the moment to scream, "Off with his head!" in his role as the Dodgers’ closer?

Think this is it? Think Javy Guerra struggling on consecutive nights is exactly the moment to demand that Kenley Jansen be installed as the closer?

Think again. Exhale a little, or, as the kiddies say, cool your jets.

Yeah, Guerra blew it Tuesday. And, sore jaw and all, blew it again Wednesday. It happens. It will happen again, and has to every closer in baseball history.

Sure, watch him closely, but this is a guy who has only been on the job for four months. Cut him some slack.

All he did last year was convert 21 of 23 save opportunities. He’s 7 of 9 this year. Not exactly the same as last season, but it doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

“At this point, I’m not going to get into a big closer thing again,” said manager Don Mattingly. “Six days ago, five days ago, three days ago, it’s not even a question. So after two outings, if you think all of a sudden I’m going to change and flip-flop, I’m not.”

Nor should he. The problem isn’t that Guerra stumbled a couple of days, as much as Jansen blows people away. He sets strikeout records. He fits the prototypical role as a closer.

But Guerra has always appeared amazingly calm on the mound. He has looked like someone who wanted to be in a pressure situation. And he has almost always delivered.

That’s why when a Brian McCann come-backer hit him in the jaw, he stayed in the game. He wanted to be there. Was anyone really surprised when he remained on the mound?

“He’s a tough kid, a bulldog out there on the mound,” said catcherA.J. Ellis. “He wants to be in that situation. I wasn’t too surprised.”

OK, so now he’s faltered. Now watch and see how he responds. If he can’t shake it, if he continues to struggle, Jansen is still there. There’s no hurry. Why shake Guerra’s confidence more than the Braves did?

He deserves an opportunity to come back, to grow as a closer. He’s a bright guy. He understands the situation.

“We’re in that situation to win and I let the team down two days in a row,” Guerra said.

People’s fascination with Jansen should not create some premature judgment about Guerra. He’s been knocked down. Give him a chance to get back up. Up until now, he’s been everything asked of him. His demeanor has seemed perfectly suited to the closer’s role.

“Javy is that kind of guy,” Mattingly said. “He’s been that kind of guy the whole time. You can sit here and question all you want. Our ballclub has confidence in Javy.”

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