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Fresh Kenley Jansen Saves Dodgers Win, But Javy Guerra Still Closer

After throwing six straight balls to begin his outing, Kenley Jansen recovered for his second save in three days.
After throwing six straight balls to begin his outing, Kenley Jansen recovered for his second save in three days.

The Dodgers completed their sweep of the Nationals on Sunday with a 2-0 victory behind a masterful pitching performance from Chris Cpauano, but the story came in the ninth inning.

Manager Don Mattingly, who spend the bulk of his pregame session detailing how Javy Guerra was still his closer despite his recent struggles, had a save situation and went to Kenley Jansen instead of Guerra.

The assumption at the time was simply that Guerra was unavailable today, but that went out the window when Guerra began warming up after Jansen missed the strike zone with his first six pitches.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt went to the mound to calm down Jansen, who then threw three straight strikes to retire Xavier Nady for the first out. Jansen completed the game by facing five batters, with nobody putting the ball in play. Two walks, three strikeouts, one save, and one question for Mattingly after the game.

Why Jansen instead of Guerra in the ninth inning?

"It's really simple today, just the freshest arm," Mattingly said. "Kenley's fresh. It's the right time."

But then why did Guerra, who threw 22 pitches Saturday night, begin to warm up, if he wasn't going to be used?

"If he's going to walk the house, with six straight balls," Mattingly said of Jansen.

Mattingly insisted Guerra is still his closer, but it seems questions will remain until Guerra actually converts a save opportunity. It was Guerra after the game who provided some perspective on the situation.

"We've got Kenley throwing the heck out of the ball. We've got Lindblom throwing the heck out of the ball," Guerra said. "We're winning. Let's not make more of this than it is."

Speaking of Josh Lindblom, he had another scoreless outing today, this time lasting an inning and a third. He has 11 strikeouts and has allowed 11 baserunners so far this season, and has proved an invaluable weapon in the Dodgers bullpen.

Lindblom's last six outings, and eight of his last nine, have began int he seventh inning or later, with all but one of his appearances this season coming in a close game (lead or deficit of two runs or less). Mattingly was asked after the game if he could imagine a bullpen without Lindblom.

"He's been outstanding," Mattingly said. "I'm with you on that."

The Dodgers plan to activate Ronald Belisario on Thursday, after his 25-game suspension is up. Lindblom, who along with Jansen and Guerra are the only relievers with options remaining, has certainly earned the right to stay in the bullpen. The Dodgers know it, but will they act on it?

Roster Move

After the game, the Dodgers optioned Nathan Eovaldi to Double A Chattanooga. Eovaldi didn't pitch in any of the three days he was with the big club during this stint in Los Angeles. Todd Coffey will be officially activated from the disabled list on Monday in Colorado.

Up Next

The Dodgers hit the road beginning Monday in Colorado, when Aaron Harang starts the opener of a three-game series at Coors Field. Juan Nicasio starts for the Rockies.