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Kenley Jansen replaces Brandon League as closer

Don Mattingly's move could create more problems in the seventh and eighth innings.

June 11, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Manager Don Mattingly moved Kenley Jansen to the closing spot following Brandon League's blown save against the Diamondbacks which resulted in a 5-4 loss after the Dodgers had been leading 3-1 through eight innings.
Manager Don Mattingly moved Kenley Jansen to the closing spot following… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

A day after Brandon League blew his second save in four opportunities, Kenley Jansen was named the Dodgers' closer.

But in solving one problem, Manager Don Mattingly might have created another.

The team's best reliever, Jansen was previously in a flexible role, as Mattingly deployed him in the most high-leverage situations, often in the seventh or eighth innings. That experiment was abandoned Tuesday, as Mattingly designated Jansen for ninth-inning duty to replace League, who has an earned-run average of 6.00.

The move figures to create a void in the seventh and eighth innings, particularly with League and setup man Ronald Belisario slumping. Mattingly was refreshingly frank when assessing the bullpen.

Wouldn't the new arrangement result in the Dodgers giving up leads sooner?

"I don't know that it works better this way," Mattingly acknowledged.

How will the Dodgers get the ball from their starting pitcher to Jansen in the ninth inning?

"That's a great question," Mattingly said. "The best we can, I guess."

Why lock Jansen into the ninth inning instead of remaining flexible with how he is used?

"We're back in the same boat, then," Mattingly said.

Asked whom he had in mind for the seventh and eighth innings, Mattingly replied, "I can't say I've got somebody. I started the year thinking Beli, Kenley and Leaguer. That hasn't gone very well."

Mattingly mentioned left-handers J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez as candidates.

Mattingly sounded more concerned about how a shaky closer could affect his team psychologically. The Dodgers dropped a 5-4 decision to the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night in a game they were leading 3-1 through eight innings.

"This one last night, especially, it's right in your face," Mattingly said. "It's the team you're chasing and you give one up, it's a two-game swing right there. It just hurts."

Another DL move

Outfielder Scott Van Slyke became the 15th Dodger to be put on the disabled list this season, as inflammation in his left shoulder gained him admittance into the increasingly popular club.

The diagnosis, which was confirmed by an MRI exam, came as a relief to Van Slyke.

"We actually thought it was worse than the results we got today," Van Slyke said. "We thought maybe I had a slightly torn labrum."

That could have required an operation similar to the one Matt Kemp had in the off-season.

Since being called up from triple-A Albuquerque, Van Slyke provided the Dodgers with some much-needed power off the bench. In only 24 games, Van Slyke has six home runs, which ranks second on the Dodgers.

With Van Slyke sidelined, the Dodgers called up Alex Castellanos from triple-A Albuquerque to provide outfield depth.

The Dodgers also called up right-hander Chris Withrow from Albuquerque to reinforce a bullpen that was expected to be without Belisario for another day. Belisario has a sore collarbone.

Withrow, 24, had never previously been called up to the major leagues. He was the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2007 and had a 1.93 ERA in 22 games at triple A this season.

To clear a roster spot for Withrow, the Dodgers optioned infielder Justin Sellers to Albuquerque.

Short hops

Organist Nancy Bea Hefley wasn't at the ballpark, as she was with her husband, who was scheduled to undergo heart surgery. Hefley is also expected to miss the series finale against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. … A.J. Ellis started a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. … Hanley Ramirez said he doesn't feel anything in his left hamstring, but the medical staff forbade him from running on Tuesday. … Ted Lilly received an epidural to reduce inflammation in his neck.

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