Today’s Game as a Microcosm of the Season

Contributions from the “big three”, nothing at all from the rest of the lineup, a decent starting pitching performance, and issues in the bullpen? Yeah, we’ve got that, just like every other day.

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Jamey Carroll, the aforementioned “big three”, all got hits, going 4-10 between then with Ethier also reaching on a walk.

As usual, just about no one else did, as the rest of the lineup went 1-19 with just a 9th inning Aaron Miles single and a Tony Gwynn walk. Remember, that’s against Dustin Moseley, whose sparkling 1.99 ERA entering the game belies the fact that he’d struck out just ten men in 31.2 innings, hence the 4.05 xFIP. Moseley, of course, struck out six Dodgers in seven innings.

That’s how you spoil a perfectly acceptable six inning, three run outing from your fifth starter, with Jon Garland pitching five scoreless around a difficult second inning. Though Blake Hawksworth was solid in contributing two scoreless innings, much more disturbing was Hong-Chih Kuo‘s seemingly premature return from the disabled list.

Kuo threw 25 pitches, but just 14 for strikes while allowing four men to reach in a 9th inning he couldn’t complete. His velocity was in the low 90s, but his control was all over the place; he was finally yanked after hitting Will Venable with a big, looping curveball, one of several breaking pitches he had no command of. Mike MacDougal followed by allowing a run to score on a sacrifice fly, and two more on a Chase Headley double. As Tony Jackson tweeted, if you’re really keeping Lance Cormier around to be a mop up guy, you’d think that’s when he’d make an appearance, especially not having pitched in nine days. Cormier eventually came in as the third pitcher of the inning after MacDougal ran the score to 7-0.

With the loss, the Dodgers fall back to one game under .500.

Dodgers Swap Out Jansen for Kuo

Dylan Hernandez with some unexpected news:

The #Dodgers have reinstated LHP Hong-Chih Kuo and optioned RHP Kenley Jansen to Triple-A Albuquerque.

It’s great to have Kuo back, of course, assuming that he’s healthy and ready to go, which remains to be seen. It’s the demotion of Jansen that’s somewhat confusing. Obviously, his ERA of 7.43 is pretty ugly, though 9 of the 11 earned runs he’s allowed came in just two games – one of which was his season debut.

Since allowing four earned runs to the Giants on April 2, Jansen’s pitched in 12.1 innings over 10 games. In that time, he’s struck out 20 against 6 walks, allowing a line of .196/.288/.391. He did have a meltdown on April 19 against the Braves, giving up five earned runs in the 9th inning of a game that the Dodgers were already losing, but has been excellent in the three games since: 9 strikeouts and 2 walks in 4.2 innings, without a hit.

Yet Lance Cormier, who’s pitched just once in the last two weeks, and only once has made it through an appearance without giving up a run, remains. I assume that this falls under Ned Colletti’s usual m.o. of keeping control over as many players as possible, and I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world for Jansen to get more experience in a lower-pressure environment, but with the bullpen struggling as much as it has been, it certainly seems like an odd choice to send down the guy who’s striking out 14.85 men per nine innings. That’s the highest rate of anyone in baseball this year with at least 13 innings pitched, and it’s the 8th best seasonal rate in major league history (obviously, in a tiny sample size).

Jansen will be back soon, and Cormier, most likely, won’t be. So this isn’t a fatal, crushing mistake. It’s just an unexpected choice to look at your bullpen full of guys who don’t miss bats – like Matt Guerrier, Cormier, and lately Jonathan Broxton – and send down the one guy who really does.