Dodgers Bullpen Collapses Again, Blame Doesn’t Belong in One Place

It’s like a horror movie with an obvious twist looming.

We were all just waiting for it to happen.

And then, in the bottom of the eighth, the seemingly inevitable happened as the Dodger bullpen imploded for four runs — turning a 2-1 lead into a 5-2 hole.

But who is to blame?

Is it Brandon League?

Kenley Jansen?

Don Mattingly?

Ned Colletti?

If you ask me — the answer to all four of those questions is a resounding, “YES”.

Let’s start with League, because as the team’s closer and the guy who watched all four runs cross the plate from the mound, he’s going to get the lion’s share of the blame.

In League’s defense, the box score doesn’t credit him with a single earned run thanks to an error by Juan Uribe.

Unfortunately, fans don’t care whether the runs are earned or unearned, they’re going to care about his inability to get anyone out. (Of the seven batters League faced, four reached base).

Of course, League’s 5.51 ERA isn’t doing him any favors.

Next up is Kenley Jansen — the pitcher credited with the loss after coming in to start the eighth and allowing back-to-back base runners (a hit and a walk).

One night after surrendering a pair of back-breaking homers, Jansen was back out there for one out in the seventh.

Despite a long night on Saturday, Mattingly left Jansen in the game to start the eighth and it quickly became apparent he wasn’t going to be effective.

As we know, both of those runners eventually came around to score.

Then there’s Mattingly.

In his defense, no manager in the league would be successful with the pile of garbage that currently makes up the Dodgers bullpen. On the flipside, he also doesn’t do himself any favors with a number of questionable, but partially defensible, decisions.

First was the decision to pull starter Matt Magill in the sixth after he gave up a run in the fifth and then a single to start the fifth. So after 95 pitches, Magill was finished.

Considering the heart of the order was due up, this decision was hardly a bad one.

Next into the game was JP Howell.

After a Mark Ellis error put two runners on, Howell got the next two batters out before giving way to Ronald Belisario.

Belisario worked the Dodgers out of the jam in the 6th, and then returned to get the first two outs of the seventh before giving up a walk and giving way to Paco Rodriguez.

With runners at first and second, Rodriguez was promptly removed in favor of Kenley Jansen, who struck out Jason Heyward.

Of course, as we know, Jansen’s success ended there.

On the surface, there’s nothing abnormal here — just a manager finding matchups he likes and using his best guys to get big outs.

My only issue — which is definitely a small one — is why Mattingly was so quick to play matchups despite the clear lack of depth he had remaining.

When bringing Jansen in for the seventh (and removing Rodriguez after just two pitches), Mattingly had to play out the scenario in his mind and realize he had only a tired Jansen, Brandon League, Matt Gurrier and Javy Guerra to get the final six outs.

Again, not exactly his fault that those guys were his options, but it’s easy to question the decision not to leave Rodriguez in.

Then again, with a one-run lead and two guys on, bringing your best reliever in isn’t the worst move in the world.

All of this, however, brings us to general manager Ned Colletti — the genius who has assembled this all-star cast of relievers.

He’s the guy who signed Matt Guerrier to a three-year, $12 million deal.

He’s the guy who inked Brandon League to a three year, $21 million deal.

When you’re spending $11 million on a pair of relievers, it’s hard to go 0/2. Unfortunately, Ned makes it look easy.

So while Mattingly’s the guy who is forced to lift his arm in summoning mediocre reliever after mediocre reliever, we need to remember why those guys are there in the first place.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer features content written by our site editors along with our staff of contributing writers. Thank you for your readership.


  1. Couldn’t have said it better, Jeff. Mattingly is likely out and it’s not entirely his fault. I put a lot of blame on the bullpen, much on the lack of offensive production in the lineup (sound familiar?), some blame on the plethora of injuries (particularly in the starting rotation) and a fair amount on Donny Baseball for some unusual decisions both offensivley and defensively. That said, I would hate to see Mattingly go. I’m for waiting until the All-Star break for making a decision on Donny, but then that kind of decision is far above my pay grade. I just wonder who could possibly replace him. I don’t have much confidence in anyone currently on the staff and I can’t think of anyone available outside of the organization who could do more with a team that is clearly underperforming. Hey, how’s Lasorda doing these days?

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