Closer Kenley Jansen #74 and catcher Drew Butera #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after the game with the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium on April 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Jansen picked up his eighth save as the Dodgers won 5-2. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
It’s still early in the season, but at the pace Dodgers relievers are being used, the bullpen at Chavez Ravine may need to be fitted for a revolving door.
Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Dodgers relief pitchers have worked in all 26 of the team’s games and a total of 92 ⅓ innings, second most in the major leagues.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says the coaching staff is aware of the high volume of innings logged by the relief staff but he doesn’t see it being a problem in the long run.
“We know it can’t keep up,” Mattingly said. “We don’t think it’ll be like this anyway just because of the number of off days that we’ve had and the number of innings that our starters have pitched compared to our bullpen, that’s going to equal out. We’ve already seen it get better as (starters) are getting stronger.”
The team has also been bit by the extra-inning bug. They’ve had three games go into the 12th inning, two that have gone 11, and another that went ten innings which has stretched the bullpen thin at times. That’s something right-hand reliever Chris Withrow has noticed.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in our starters to come in and do their job, but we prepare the same way,” Withrow said, adding, “(We) have to be ready no matter what happens and try not to look at those numbers too much.”
It’s been an equal opportunity bullpen with six Dodger relievers having logged between ten and 14 innings. After appearing in 75 games in 2013, closer Kenley Jansen has already seen action in a Major League tying 16 games this season but he says he’s not phased by the heavy workload.
“I’m not concerned at all. I’m just going to go out there and pitching, Mattingly and (pitching coach Rick Honeycutt) will protect me,” Jansen said.
He’s done his job when called upon having converted nine of 11 save opportunities.
With the return of starter Clayton Kershaw expected in about a week the Dodgers should see their rotation look like what was penciled in at the start of the season. It’ll also give Withrow and company a chance to get some elasticity back in those rubber arms.