Dodgers remove Javy Guerra from closer role, name Kenley Jansen as replacement

Leave a comment

Javy Guerra was given the opportunity to open the season as the Dodgers’ closer after posting a 2.31 ERA and 21 saves in 23 chances last year, but most felt it was only a matter of time before Kenley Jansen would stake his claim on the role. That time is now.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly just announced that Guerra has been formally demoted from the closer role and Jansen will take over.

Guerra blew his third save of the season yesterday, giving up one run on two hits and a walk in an eventual extra-inning loss to the Cubs. The 26-year-old right-hander has allowed eight earned runs over 12 1/3 innings (12 1/3 innings) so far this year after allowing just 12 earned runs in 46 2/3 innings last year.

While Guerra has struggled in the early going, Jansen has picked up from where he left off in 2010 and 2011 by posting a 2.70 ERA and 27/7 K/BB ratio across 16 2/3 innings. It was a nice luxury to have him available for high-leverage situations in a set-up capacity, but the hard-throwing right-hander has the kind of electric stuff to hold down the closer gig for a long time.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.