2012 Dodgers in Review #1: C A.J. Ellis

.270/.373/.414 505pa 13hr 4.1 fWAR A++

2012 in brief: Minor league lifer turned real life folk hero contributed a breakout season as one of the more valuable catchers in baseball.

2013 status: Probably will be arbitration eligible for the first time as a “Super Two”; expected to start 2013 as the primary backstop, lest a horde of angry internet commenters barricade themselves inside Dodger Stadium.

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I’d like to say that we knew. I’d like to say that we were 100% sure that in his first chance at being an everyday player in the bigs after years of incredible OBP marks in the minors, A.J. Ellis would take advantage of the opportunity, justify our confidence in him and prove that he probably should have been up two years ago.

I’d like to say that we knew, but I can’t. We didn’t. No one knew if Ellis’ near-total lack of power (just six homers over his last four minor-league seasons, despite playing in Las Vegas & Albuquerque) would prove to be his downfall, as big league pitchers unafraid of him might simply pound the zone and force him to beat them. The Dodgers certainly didn’t know; they tried to bring back the atrocious Rod Barajas until they were outbid by Pittsburgh, and remember when that was a thing that could happen? While we’ve all had our issues with Dodger management over the years, there had to be at least a small part of you that thought they must have known something that we didn’t for keeping Ellis down so long, and it wasn’t at all unreasonable when questions started popping up about whether the Dodger catching situation would be among the worst in baseball. After all, if Ellis failed, the backup plan was… Matt Treanor? Tim Federowicz? I think it’s sometimes forgotten just how important it was that Ellis work out.

Well, we know now: in a year marked by billion-dollar sales and franchise-changing trades, there might be nothing that I remember 2012 for more than the wonderful breakout of A.J. Ellis. The numbers speak for themselves, of course; his .373 OBP was tied for 18th-best in MLB, and if you believe that the primary job of a hitter is simply to not make outs, think about what that means for a second. He was durable, joining with Treanor to be the only Dodger hitters to stay on the active roster all season, and ended up catching the fourth-most innings in baseball – despite playing on a sore left knee that, according to his wife and this photo, required surgery for a torn meniscus on Friday.

That OBP, by the way, was the 13th-best by a catcher in Dodger history, behind only seven seasons from two legends (Mike Piazza [3] & Roy Campanella [4]), two years by Russell Martin, and a season apiece from Mike Scioscia, Paul Lo Duca, & Babe Phelps. Hey, remember when we were bemoaning the fact that Dioner Navarro was going to get handed a job ahead of Ellis? Yeah, me neither.

But we always expected that Ellis would get on base; what was surprising was the power he brought. His 13 homers not only were third on the club, they were just six fewer than he’d hit in more than 2100 minor league plate appearance dating back to 2003. If anyone has a good explanation for how exactly that happened, the floor is open. That power made Ellis something of a surprising run producer (third on the team in RBI, if you believe in that sort of thing), and it gave pitchers something to think about when challenging him. In the field, he was a plus as well, with pitchers raving about his game-calling skills and one study ranking him as the seventh-best defensive catcher. (Though I would note that he seemed to have trouble at times catching short-hop throws from the outfield.)

Ellis got things off to a good start by driving in a run on Opening Day (on a bases-loaded walk, natch) and then homered in the third game of the season. As the team got off to a hot start in April, so did Ellis, who hit .291/.443/.400 for the month. We worried that the team couldn’t sustain that run, and they couldn’t. We worried a bit about Ellis too, but he blew up in May, putting up a great line of .333/.419/.556 with four homers. Yet more than just the stats were the moments, and I’m not just talking about he and Clayton Kershaw putting out the fantastic “Between Two Palm Trees” video series. On May 18, Ellis provided the walkoff win against the Cardinals, but it wasn’t just any walkoff; as we said at the time, “A.J. Ellis Walks Off In Most A.J. Ellis Way Possible“:

And then there’s A.J. Ellis. Good lord, there’s always A.J. Ellis. In the ninth against Fernando Salas, the Dodgers put men on the corners after an Elian Herrera walk and Kennedy’s fourth (!) hit of the night. Andre Ethier struck out, and the Cardinals chose to put Loney on intentionally to face Ellis, who had already driven in Loney with a single earlier in the game. They chose… let’s say, poorly. Not against Ellis, not this year, not when he’s on his way to Kansas City. Ellis watched ball four go by, and the Dodgers, improbably, incredibly, unbelievably, take the first game of a big series against St. Louis.

That was fun, but eight days later Ellis decided to walk off for real with a homer, on May 26 against Houston:

After the game, Ellis noted

“This is the greatest moment of my personal baseball career,” Ellis said. “It’s really humbling, just to be a part of where this team is headed right now. It feels real special.”

…and if that doesn’t warm your heart for a guy like that, I don’t know what does.

Of course, none of this could have been possible without the wonderful contributions of Houston manager Brad Mills. Has the legend of A.J. Ellis really not reached Houston yet? With one on and one out in the ninth, Mills chose to intentionally walk James Loney rather than bring in lefty Fernando Abad. Granted, Loney did have several solid hits on the evening, but having him face a lefty essentially makes him an instant out, since at the time the only bench player remaining for the Dodgers was backup catcher Matt Treanor.

Mills opted to put Loney on and have righty Wilton Lopez face Ellis. Ellis made him pay. All is right in the world.

By the time he homered in Colorado on June 3, Ellis was sporting a season line of .315/.430/.503, and the legend was in full swing. Justin D created his wonderful “A.J. Ellis Facts” Tumblr, Eephus was creating Ellis t-shirts, and we were inspired to kick off a completely unironic All-Star campaign. He slumped somewhat in June as the rest of the team fell apart around him, though he did manage to keep up a .380 OBP that month, and while he never really had a chance in the All-Star balloting in a league that had great production from catchers like Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Carlos Ruiz, and others, the fact that he took the time to acknowledge the efforts of those here in pushing #AJ2KC made it all worth it:

That July 3 game ended up being the high point of the season, as he hit .246/.343/.368 from that point foward, but he managed to come back for a nice August (.291/.359/.481), beginning with a night that transcended baseball on August 3. For the first time in his career, Ellis went deep twice, in a 6-1 victory over the Cubs. You’d think that’d have been the big story of the night. You’d be wrong; apologies for the long excerpt here, but I can’t help myself:

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he’s never hit multiple home runs in a game at any level of professional baseball.

Never, that is, until Vin Scully deemed it to be so.

During the sixth inning, Scully went on a fun tangent about Twitter, helpfully transcribed here by “ThtsaPaddlin”:

“You know this year, more than many years, I have a great deal of gratitude for the all the folks listening on radio and watching on television.  Pitch in for a strike, 1 and 1.  For instance, earlier this year I learned about a soul patch — that little bit of beard. 1 ball, one strike.  That’s a strike.  1 and 2.  Then of course, the great discovery.  Troy Tulowitzki‘s hairdo: A mullet!  Boy, that, that really put me in line. So now I know about a soul patch and a mullet. And then the other night, talked about a-a ‘tweet,’ only I called it a ‘twit,’ but I-I-I thought it was a ‘twit,’ since it’s Twitter.  A drive to the gap in left-center.  There’s nobody there.  It will drop for a base hit, and holding with the single is Ellis.  So anyway, I’m really up to date now on Twitter.  But I do think for all of you folks who are tweeting out there, you gotta get something TRENDING.  WHOOOOA.  So maybe we ought to get something trending about AJ Ellis.  And if you do that, you know what?  I’m cool.  I’m really cool.”

Vin Scully doesn’t even have a Twitter account, and it took all of about ten minutes for him to get Ellis (and himself) trending across both Los Angeles and the United States as a whole.

Vin got a kick out of that

“They’re trending, twittering, tweeting AJ Ellis all over the US & to be honest they told me to say that. Ah, he’s a nice boy.”

…and then Ellis came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh:

“Manny Corpas, a veteran reliever, will now become the fourth pitcher for Chicago, facing A.J. Ellis of Twitter fame.

Manny Corpas has certainly been around. Corpas inherited fourteen runners this year; four have scored.

Manny is from Panama City in Panama. He’ll be thirty, December the third. Big man, six-three, lean, about one seventy-five and a slider hit to right center and deep. On his horse and watching it go over the wall is DeJesus!

A.J. Ellis! He’s really got something trending!”

Vin Scully and A.J. Ellis are basically two of my favorite people on the planet, so to watch the two of them create a story in tandem like that… well, it doesn’t get much better. Ellis finished off the month with his first grand slam in a 10-8 win over Colorado, and it wasn’t long after that we started really looking into the historical proportions of wasting Ellis’ talents in the eighth spot in the lineup, a mistake we’d been grumbling about for basically the entire season.

Ellis slumped badly in September, hitting only .218/.315/.346 with an 0-for-30 skid as it appeared the demands of his first full season had begun to wear on him (or perhaps it was the knee, an injury we only recently learned of), but he bounced back along with the rest of the team over the final week, hitting .370/.469/.704 with two homers over the final eight games. His 13th and final homer of the season came in a must-win matchup in Game #161, but it led to one of the most memorably disappointing managerial moves of the season:

After Zito hit Andre Ethier with a pitch to lead off the frame and was relieved by Guillermo Mota, A.J. Ellis followed with one of the most impressive at-bats of the season, a nine-pitch affair that ended with a blast over the wall that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Pagan to bring the Dodgers within one. Dodger Stadium wasn’t full, but it sure sounded like it at that point. Just when you think the legend of A.J. Ellis can’t get any larger… well, there you go.

After a quiet eighth, there was hope in the ninth… briefly. Ethier, somewhat miraculously, singled up the middle against lefty Jeremy Affeldt. A runner! The move seemed clear: bring Gordon off the bench, let A.J. Ellis try to repeat his magic or possibly hit one into the gap that Gordon might be able to score on. If Ellis failed, then let Gordon try to steal ahead of Herrera (or his pinch-hitter, Abreu.)

No. Of course not. Mattingly sent in the bunt signal without sending in Gordon, and while it’d have been nice if Ellis could have made it work, it almost didn’t matter. What was the end game there? Twice-DFA’d Bobby Abreu with your season on the line? Elian Herrera? You’re taking the bat out of the hands of one of your best hitters for… what, exactly? Moving Ethier up 90 feet that Gordon probably could have (and eventually did) steal anyway? It’s stunning. Ellis struck out after failing to bunt twice, Abreu flew out, and Mark Ellis failed to redeem himself.

To be completely honest, I would love to know what was going through Ellis’ mind when he saw that bunt sign from Mattingly. As the solid team player we’ve constantly heard that he is, I’m sure that he never considered ignoring the sign for even a split second, but still; we know that Ellis reads the blogs and checks out advanced stats, so you have to wonder if he saw that and died just a little on the inside. You know, like the rest of us, except without the continued screaming about it.

Anyway, that’s more of a Mattingly issue than an Ellis issue. That failed bunt ended up being Ellis’ final plate appearance of the season, and what a season indeed. Here we are, over 2300 words into this review, and I still feel like I’ve barely done it justice. What a story, what a player, what a year. I can’t wait to see how he follows it up in 2013.

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Next up! Matt Treanor exists for some reason!

Dodgers Win Fifth Straight, But Can’t Gain Ground

Matt Kemp ended up taking the worst of this, which, DOES NOT WANT.

For three innings, it briefly looked like it might be one of those days against Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa, who’d allowed 12 runs (10 earned) in the first 6.2 innings of his comeback from Tommy John surgery over two starts. You know what kind of days I mean, the kind where one team clearly outmatches the opposition but just can’t get it done, and with St. Louis beating Washington today, the Dodgers are quickly running out of opportunities to waste.

Fortunately, that worry didn’t last long, thanks to another display of power from a suddenly resurgent offense. In the fourth inning, Matt Kemp his 23rd of the year and fourth in five days. After Adrian Gonzalez singled (his first of two on the day) and Hanley Ramirez flew out, Luis Cruz parked his sixth of the year, giving the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.

Ramirez made it 5-1 by driving in Shane Victorino (who had three singles) to end the fifth – Kemp was thrown out on the play as shown above, and was slow to get up – and then A.J. Ellis continued his remarkable run in the sixth by slamming homer #12, marking his sixth straight game with an RBI. That, combined with another effective game from Josh Beckett (albeit against a Colorado lineup that might not satisfy the MLB requirements for bringing enough regulars to road spring games) proved to be more than enough to sweep the series and win the team’s fifth straight game.

Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly too little too late. The 10-4 drubbing that Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals put on the Nationals keeps them two games up with three to play, and treading water isn’t good enough at this point. When they send Aaron Harang to the mound against Matt Cain and the Giants tomorrow night, the Cardinals will be about six innings into a Bronson Arroyo/Jaime Garcia matchup with the Reds in St. Louis. Can the Dodgers sweep San Francisco while the Cardinals lose at least two of three, with Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter lined up for the final two? Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

Stop Wasting A.J. Ellis, Please

Look how happy he is! Why deny us that?

Folk hero and all-around good guy A.J. Ellis is making a hell of an impression in his first season as a starting catcher, as I hardly need to tell you. His .388 OBP is 11th among all hitters in baseball, just above Ryan Braun, and you can consider him top-10 if you choose to ignore Melky Cabrera. Just stop and think about that for a second, would you? The primary goal of a hitter at the plate is to avoid making an out, and 31-year-old first-time starter Ellis is among the absolute best in baseball at doing just that. It’s absolutely incredible.

Now, we always expected solid on-base ability, but his 11 homers have been an unexpected surprise, given that he hit only 19 in parts of nine minor league seasons. If he keeps this level of on-base skill up, it’ll not only top any season that Russell Martin ever had, it’ll put him in the all-time top-ten for Dodger catchers, behind only three seasons apiece from two team legends (Mike Piazza & Roy Campanella) and two otherwise fluky years from Mike Scioscia & Babe Phelps.

In a season where seemingly everyone else has been injured or traded, Ellis has been a constant, teaming with backstop partner Matt Treanor to be one of the only two position players to stick on the roster without being injured or otherwise moved since Opening Day. We’ve been calling for Ellis to see time rather than some of the atrocious competition pushed in front of him like Dioner Navarro & Rod Barajas for at least two years now, and given the opportunity, he’s seized it. No matter how this season ends, I’ll always remember it, at least in part, as the year A.J. Ellis got his chance and took full advantage of it.

As you probably also know, Ellis has been stuck in the bottom of the order for most of the season, mainly the 8th spot, and that’s a fact we’ve been bemoaning all year as inferior options like Dee Gordon & Shane Victorino have eaten up outs in front of the supposed ‘heart of the lineup’. That’s a big problem, because instead of having a guy who is great at getting on base out there for Matt Kemp and friends, you’ve been wasting that skill by having him on base ahead of the pitcher and whatever crappy leadoff man happens to be following him atop the order at any given time. (That’s mostly been Gordon, Victorino, & Tony Gwynn, and it’s been ugly: Dodger leadoff men have been atrocious, with a .598 OPS there, ahead of only Cincinnati for worst in baseball.)

But in the interest of not beating that dead horse into a bloody, writhing pulp, I’ve tried not to call it out that often, aside from usual small mentions in the game thread. While it’s worthy of being noted every damn day, that’s partially because the point has been made and we know that lineup order never really matters as much as we think it does, and partially because we know Don Mattingly isn’t going to do a thing about it.

That’s all still true, but today we have a different way to look at it. Wonderful reader Justin Drummond, the man behind the fantastic “A.J. Ellis Facts” Tumblr, recently pointed out to me that not only is there a way to quantify the impact of a man of Ellis’ talents hitting so low, it’s bordering on historic. Despite his skill not only at getting on base but at staying healthy, Ellis ranks only fourth on the Dodgers in runs scored, somehow being a full 23 behind Kemp, who’s missed a solid chunk of the season with various injuries. Hell, he’s only got three more runs scored than Gordon, and Dee A) was awful when he was here and B) hasn’t been seen in more than two months.

I’ll grant that Ellis is a catcher who doesn’t have a ton of speed, and that certainly doesn’t help, but that’s not really why he’s not crossing the plate. It’s because he’s constantly being stranded out there, in some ways at a rate we haven’t seen in decades. In the history of baseball, there have been thousands of players who have had seasons with as many plate appearances as he does (441) with an on-base percentage (.388) as excellent as his. But among those thousands, only six others – six! – have hit those marks yet scored 40 or fewer runs, where he currently sits:

Rk Player R OBP PA Year Age Tm G HR RBI BA SLG OPS
1 A.J. Ellis 40 .388 441 2012 31 LAD 115 11 42 .283 .424 .812
2 Clay Dalrymple 40 .393 451 1962 25 PHI 123 11 54 .276 .416 .809
3 Dixie Walker 39 .393 466 1948 37 PIT 129 2 54 .316 .392 .786
4 Sid Gordon 38 .405 447 1954 36 PIT 131 12 49 .306 .438 .843
5 Floyd Baker 38 .392 474 1949 32 CHW 125 1 40 .260 .327 .719
6 Johnny Bassler 37 .401 463 1921 26 DET 119 0 56 .307 .379 .780
7 Steve O’Neill 33 .423 478 1922 30 CLE 133 2 65 .311 .416 .839

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that there’s been no season like this in 50 years; the second, that you’ve never heard of any of these guys, perhaps excepting Dixie Walker, best known for being a vehement opponent to welcoming Jackie Robinson into the Brooklyn clubhouse in 1947; the third, as Justin pointed out on Twitter, that four of the guys on that list had absolutely zero home run power to speak of, meaning that they were almost always driven in by their teammates.

That’s not the case for Ellis, who has manufactured 11 of his 40 runs by driving himself in, or Dalrymple, who did the same in 1962, or Gordon, who was driven home only 26 times by his teammates. But even there, the circumstances were different. Gordon, a solid but largely forgotten hitter in the late 1940s and early 50s for the Giants, Pirates, & Braves, spent most of his 1954 on an abysmal 101-loss Pirate team hitting fifth. He got on base, but his subpar teammates behind him on a bad team just couldn’t do anything about it. Eight years later, it was largely the same for Dalrymple, who was stuck hitting in front of shortstops Bobby Wine (.244) & Ruben Amaro (.243).

And Ellis? Well, Ellis hits in front of a weak hitter too, but that’s by managerial choice. He hits in front of Joe Blanton. Or Aaron Harang. Or Chris Capuano. If he gets on base with two outs, it’s basically pointless, other than to “turn the lineup over,” because the pitcher will just inevitably end the inning. (Or be replaced by an almost equally useless member of the bench, who will probably make an out too.) If he gets on with one out, then the pitcher can sacrifice him over, but that’s only if the bunt is successful – and even if it is, that only gets a man in scoring position on for the leadoff hitter, which, as we’ve seen, is usually terrible.

It’s just an appallingly inefficient use of resources, and with the Dodger lineup struggling terribly, it’s not like there isn’t reason to change things. (Believe me, if the Kemp / Adrian Gonzalez / Hanley Ramirez / Andre Ethier core was healthy & hitting like it was supposed to, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.) Hell, even if you don’t think it makes strict sense, simply changing things up for the sake of change makes a ton of sense considering how things are going these days.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. I’m hardly the world’s biggest Mark Ellis fan, but he’s been reasonably fine since ascending to the top of the order, and I know Mattingly loves him. But Victorino… well, I never expected much from in the first place, yet he’s somehow underwhelmed even that, hitting only .245./314/.329 as a Dodger. He isn’t helping, in just about any offensive way. There’s no need to force him into the top of the lineup just because he’s a “gamer” or whatever gritty BS it is we need to refer to him as. Mark Ellis, #1. A.J. Ellis, #2. Victorino, #7 or #8 or who really cares.

It’s an easy move, Don. If it works, you look like a genius. If it doesn’t, it’s simple enough to change back. The only mistake you can make right now is doing nothing at all. Make it happen, starting tomorrow in Arizona. Please.

A Walkoff So Nice They Did it Twice: AJ, Ethier, & Dodgers Cruz to Victory

Earlier today, we watched the Giants pull off yet another comeback victory, approximately their 34th in the last two weeks, and then we watched someone called “Andrew Werner” shut the Dodgers down for six innings. Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, & Shane Victorino combined for just one hit, and headed into the ninth we were prepared for yet another evening of “I can’t believe this group of no-name pitchers shut down this offense, except of course I can” groaning that would be punctuated by the fact that each missed opportunity sent them further & further behind San Francisco with time running perilously thin.

But you know what? This team might have a little magic left to it after all.

Just a day after Gonzalez walked off to beat Arizona, Andre Ethier took matters into his own hands by taking Luke Gregerson just barely over the right field wall to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the ninth. In the eleventh, Kemp & Hanley Ramirez made two quiet outs, and we prepared to see the rebirth of the John Ely era.

Except… well, except that Ethier wasn’t ready for that to happen, singling sharply to right. Neither was Luis Cruz, who advanced Ethier with his fourth hit of the night – a new career high, of course. With two on and two out, A.J. Ellis came up against Cory Burns, the seventh San Diego pitcher of the night, and you know what happened next. A.J. Ellis, superstar.

Honestly, I have to ask at this point, who’s the more fun story for this team, Ellis or Cruz? The fact that there’s even a competitor for the title with everything that Ellis has done this year really shows what an out-of-nowhere contributor Cruz has been. Watching Cruz and Ramirez (who hit his tenth homer in 38 games as a Dodger earlier in the game) produce on the left side the way they have, compared to the Dee Gordon / Juan Uribe / disastrophe we were saddled with earlier in the season… well, it’s nearly beyond words.

To merely focus on the final few innings unfairly ignores the rest of the game, of course, but that’s how these things go. After a first inning homer to Chase Headley – merely the best non-Buster Posey hitter in the NL over the last two months – Joe Blanton settled down for another good start, pitching into the seventh inning before Randy Choate & Ronald Belisario (who somehow both seemingly injured their pitching hands in the span of about five minutes) combined to allow the go-ahead run. Brandon League, pitching for the fourth time in five days, pitched two shutout innings to continue his recent dominating streak. And even Jamey Wright, he of “he’s still here?” pitched in two scoreless of his own.

But that’s not what we’re going to be talking about tomorrow. It’s going to be the tenth walkoff win of the year; it’s going to be yet another late-inning blast in the increasingly impressive Ethier ledger; it’s going to be Ellis & Cruz, surprising heroes for a surprising team.

Dodgers Survive Colorado Scare, But May Be Without Kenley Jansen

If the Dodgers wanted to reverse their recent slide and avoid a sweep this afternoon, they needed at least one of the following two things to happen, and preferably both:

1) For Joe Blanton to stop pitching like the Triple-A mess he’d been in his first four Dodger starts, and
2) For someone, anyone, on offense to start producing, especially with Matt Kemp out

I’m guessing that “nearly blow a 10-1 eighth inning lead” wasn’t on the list, but what fun would it be if it weren’t interesting?

Blanton, nothing short of a disaster in his first month as a Dodger, was finally effective in getting into the eighth inning having avoided any major damage. With everything that’s happened to the rotation recently, Blanton’s performance can’t be understated, and there was just no way he was going to continue being as poor as he’s been. Blanton left with two on in the eighth up 10-1, and that’s where things got ugly.

Shawn Tolleson, just recalled back to the club today when Scott Elbert went on the disabled list, faced four batters and allowed four to reach, adding two runs to Blanton’s ledger. Randy Choate entered to hit Tyler Colvin to force in another run, and Ronald Belisario followed to allow two more (all of which were charged to Tolleson). With Kenley Jansen unavailable – and more on that in a second – Belisario was forced to pitch the ninth as well, which he fortunately was able to get through without allowing the Rockies to complete what would have been a soul-crushing comeback.

While the pitching staff made things interesting, the offense provided fireworks of their own. Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Juan Rivera, & A.J. Ellis all had two hits against Colorado starter Drew Pomeranz and friends, with Hanley Ramirez hitting his eighth Dodger homer and A.J. Ellis hitting his first grand slam. You just can’t say enough about Ellis at this point, can you? His 11th homer of the year is more than half as many as the 19 he had in parts of nine minor league seasons. His OBP is .386. He is, as they say, the greatest man in the world.

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Unfortunately, today’s win came with some very bad news about Jansen, whose unexplained absence in the ninth left many wailing at Don Mattingly. Well, here’s why we didn’t see him:

This is now the third time, I believe, that Jansen has had heart issues which have cost him time, and it’s beginning to become a serious concern. Oh, sure, it’s a big problem that a team in the playoff hunt may have just lost their dominating closer, but beyond baseball, Jansen’s health is the priority here. Assuming Jansen checks out and doesn’t have more pressing worries about this, the Dodgers have worries of their own. Brandon League, closer? Terrifying to think about, but it’s what Mattingly hinted at after the game because of League’s “experience”. No. Thanks.

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Finally this afternoon, the Dodgers announced who they’d be sending to the Arizona Fall League, which is annually one of the best places to see the collected top talent in the minor leagues. Pitchers Red Patterson, Eric Eadington, & Steven Rodriguez, catcher Gorman Erickson, infielder Rafael Ynoa, and outfielders Yasiel Puig & Joc Pederson will be joining the Salt River Rafters, which is comprised of players from Houston, Colorado, Detroit, and the Dodgers. Before anyone asks, no, Zach Lee & Chris Reed did not need their seasons extended with even more innings. Only players who have not appeared in the majors are eligible, so if there was any thought of Alex Castellanos or someone like him, that’s why he’s not here.