In a continuous effort to throw mental darts at the board and hoping something sticks and saves what has been a disappointing season thus far, Dodgers manager Joe Torre pulled All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton from the 9th inning role on Friday. Torre says the move is only temporary until Broxton regains the confidence he has seemed to have lost since the All-Star break.
After shutting the door on the American League All-Stars in Anaheim a month ago, Broxton has gone on to blow three of his five save chances, most notably a four-run lead against the Phillies on Thursday night. In the second half, Broxton has allowed 10 runs on nine hits in a little over eight innings with 11 walks in just eight appearances. His ERA in the second half is a putrid 10.13.
The leading candidate to fill in for Broxton is fellow All-Star reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, who locked down the save in a 2-1 win against the Braves last night(his fourth of the season). However, Kuo has a long history of elbow troubles and given Torre’s reputation to abuse relievers like Jamarcus Russell abuses cough syrup, the more likely scenario is a closer-by-committee situation with Kuo, recently-acquired Octavio Dotel and rookie Kenley Jensen each taking turns shutting the door.
While the “Who’s closing tonight?” question is something a team that was hoping to be sitting atop the NL West by this time can ill-afford to ask, Torre is confident that Broxton will win back the closer’s job quick enough to avoid this becoming a detrimental quagmire. “We definitely want him to get [the role] back, ” said Torre. “He was the All-Star closer, and he is the reason the National League will have home-field advantage for the World Series. But the game can beat you up a little bit. You just have to be able to fight back. He is capable of that, and he will do that.”
The Dodgers currently sit nine games out of first in the NL West and 6.5 out of the Wild Card. Certainly, crazier comebacks have happened to give the Dodgers hope that they can still make a run at the postseason but their play since the All-Star break makes that “hope” very bleak. The team will be without its most dangerous bat(Manny Ramirez) for most of this month as well as its top leadoff man and speed demon(Rafael Furcal) for the next couple of weeks. Now, it has to deal with its All-Star closer regaining his mojo and the inevitable questions about their Hall of Fame manager’s future as the team’s postseason hopes become more and more grim.
This isn’t the way Joe Torre would have liked to go out, but then again, this is why you play the games. You never know what may happen.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.