Flash back, if you will, to Game 5 of the NLDS between the Nationals and Dodgers. The Dodgers emerged 4-3 victors of that game and earned the right to advance to the NLCS to face the Cubs.
Game 5 featured Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen coming in to pitch the seventh inning. Jansen got into a bit of trouble in the seventh but ultimately escaped. He worked a scoreless eighth and returned to the mound in the ninth, but after issuing back-to-back one-out walks, he exited the game and ace Clayton Kershaw entered. Jansen threw 51 pitches, by far surpassing his previous career-high.
Kershaw, who started Game 4 and threw 110 pitches, needed only seven pitches to close out the ninth in Game 5, getting Daniel Murphy to pop out before getting Wilmer Difo to fan at a curve in the dirt for strike three.
In a postseason that has been under a microscope due to controversial bullpen management, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looked like a genius. Nationals manager Dusty Baker, however, wasn’t on board.
So off the Dodgers went to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLCS. The Dodgers lost Game 1 due to a disastrous eighth inning for reliever Joe Blanton. Jansen — nor Kershaw — made an appearance.
In Game 2, however, Kershaw and Jansen were the only two pitches the Dodgers needed to even up the series at one game apiece. Kershaw went seven innings, allowing just two hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 84 pitches. Jansen entered in the eighth and recorded a two-inning save, facing the minimum with four strikeouts on 18 pitches.
Seems like they’re doing just fine.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.