Sure enough, he’s hurt: Jonathan Broxton shut down with elbow pain

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UPDATE: Just as we suspected, the Dodgers announced that Broxton has been shut down with elbow pain. Not that an elbow injury qualifies as good news, but at least it potentially explains his struggles beyond “Broxton just stinks now.”

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Jonathan Broxton’s latest ugly outing last night has Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts wondering if the closer is pitching through an injury.

Broxton was used in a non-save situation, coming into a 1-1 game in the ninth inning, but followed an Aramis Ramirez pop out with back-to-back walks and was quickly yanked.

Weisman notes that Broxton’s fastball topped out at 93 miles per hour and averaged just 91 mph, which is well off from his usual overpowering velocity. Here’s more:

That’s just not the Broxton of 12 months ago, and I’m not convinced it’s even the Broxton of 12 weeks ago. People have been strangely fascinated with Broxton’s facial expressions and posture, but here’s a suggestion: Someone needs to look at his arm. Even if they’ve looked at it before, look at it again. …

Though I’ve always suspected Broxton’s been off physically since his serious struggles began in late June, this was possibly the first time I watched him and said to myself, “There’s a guy that’s headed straight for the disabled list.” Of course, what I observe from my seat far from the pitcher’s mound has no real relevance, but I just offer it as an impression.

It is, I will say, a little peculiar to me that it doesn’t occur to the people who are calling for Broxton’s head and questioning his mental makeup that Broxton is possibly pitching hurt, and maybe has been for some time. If he has been concealing an injury, I sure hope he comes clean.

Whenever a formerly dominant pitcher has a sudden, sustained drop in performance the initial reaction should definitely skew more toward “maybe he’s hurt” than “maybe he’s a bum now.” Yet as Weisman said above, for some reason that rarely happens.

Broxton was an elite, dominating reliever for four-and-a-half seasons, but he’s been a mess since a four-run appearance on June 27 of last year. He actually took a 0.83 ERA into that game, but since then Broxton has thrown 42 innings with a 7.02 ERA and 35/32 K/BB ratio.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.