The Dodgers, who are already without both Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo, put another reliever on the DL Thursday after replacement closer Vicente Padilla came down with a sore forearm.
Padilla opened the season on the DL after elbow surgery, but he quickly claimed the closer’s after returning last month. That was because both original the Dodgers’ original closer, Broxton, and his presumed heir, Kuo, were struggling with injuries of their own.
With Padilla down, the Dodgers are left with Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier and Mike MacDougal as closing options.
Jansen, the converted catcher who was a sensation after debuting last year, was briefly sent down to Double-A last month, but he’s struck out seven in four scoreless innings since returning. He closed out a game last Friday after Padilla failed to get the job done in the ninth.
Guerrier would be manager Don Mattingly’s safest option, even though he’s a 32-year-old with six career saves to his credit. He picked up the save Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Brewers.
MacDougal is the man in the pen with all of the closing experience; he’s saved 70 games, including 20 with the Nationals in 2009. Still, he’s even wilder than Jansen, having walked nine batters in 14 2/3 innings this season.
Jansen is the one candidate of the three to run away with the job while Padilla is out. It’d certainly be best for Mattingly and the Dodgers if he could do so. Guerrier is at his most valuable working in tight games in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.