Overshadowed by the bench-clearing ugliness of last night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game is that Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly finally decided to change closers, announcing beforehand that Kenley Jansen would replace Brandon League in the ninth inning.
Jansen has always been the far superior pitcher, but Mattingly has repeatedly resisted making a change despite League posting a 6.00 ERA and allowing runs in 11 of his 24 appearances. No doubt the front office overpaying League with a three-year, $22.5 million contract played a part.
Meanwhile, since debuting four years ago Jansen has a 2.27 ERA and incredible 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 174 appearances, including a 2.45 ERA and 45/6 K/BB ratio in 33 innings this season. During that same four-year span League has a 3.43 ERA and 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings. It’s been obvious for a while now who the Dodgers’ best reliever is.
We’re still in the third inning of NLCS Game 5 but the Dodgers are walloping the Cubs thus far, leading 7-0. Outfielder Enrique Hernandez has driven in five of those runs on a solo home run in the second inning and a grand slam in the third.
The other runs came on Cody Bellinger‘s RBI double in the first and Justin Turner‘s RBI single in the second.
The Dodgers loaded the bases on three consecutive singles to start the third inning, chasing starter Jose Quintana from the game. Hector Rondon entered in relief and struck out Logan Forsythe, revealing some light at the end of the tunnel. But his first-pitch slider to Hernandez caught too much of the plate and Hernandez drove it out to right-center field for a grand slam.
Hernandez has had two two-homer games in the regular season, on July 17 this year and April 15 last year. He has never had a five-RBI game. Hernandez’s home run in the second marked his first career postseason home run and RBI as well.
FanGraphs has the Dodgers’ win probability for this game at 96 percent. Clayton Kershaw is on the hill. It’s looking like they’re going to clinch the National League pennant tonight, but there’s still six innings left. We’ve seen big leads evaporate this postseason.