Matt Guerrier allowed a pair of two-run home runs to the Brewers on Saturday night, turning the tide from the feel-good story of Matt Magill's MLB debut into another loss for a beleaguered bullpen.
The game turned in the seventh inning, when manager Don Mattingly removed the left-handed Paco Rodriguez to allow the right-handed Guerrier to face the right-handed Carlos Gomez.
"The matchup was what we wanted," Mattingly said. "Matt has good numbers with these guys, good numbers with Gomez. It didn't work out tonight."
Those numbers were Gomez going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Guerrier. But the problem is the most recent of those plate appearances came in 2011. We are talking about three single plate appearances, one each from 2007, 2010, and 2011. That was when Guerrier was a bullpen workhorse, pitching 70 or more games for five consecutive seasons for the Twins and Dodgers.
But Guerrier is no longer that pitcher.
Guerrier held right-handed batters to a .235 batting average (4-for-17) before Saturday, but he struck out none of the 21 right-handed batters he faced, while walking two. He just hasn't been missing bats this season, as his six walks and two strikeouts to 37 batters on the season show.
But on Saturday, Mattingly felt comfortable going to Guerrier as his bridge to Kenley Jansen, as both Brandon League and Ronald Belisario weren't available.
"The win last night came at somewhat of a high price," Mattingly said. "We used Leaguer, the third day in a row for him. We knew we didn't have him today. Beli went to a point (37 pitches) where we couldn't use him either."
It's still April so of course the numbers are taken from a small sample size, but Mattingly's options to face Gomez were lefties Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell, both with a .400 on-base percentage against righties this season, or Josh Wall, who looked shaky at best in three of his four outings. Not exactly the most stocked cupboard.
Then again, Matt Guerrier's 6.48 ERA isn't pretty either.
"That's what happens when breaking pitches hang in the zone longer than you want," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "It's the fine line you have to play when you throw them breaking balls. When they're good and down in the zone, you get a lot of outs and lots of swings and misses. But when they hang and stay up, they go a long way."
The Dodgers could sure use some bullpen reinforcements, but there aren't a ton of options readily available. Chris Withrow, Steve Ames, and Javy Guerra are all on the 40-man roster, so they'd be the most likely bets, with Peter Moylan as a possible candidate as well, though he is on a minor league contract and would have to be added to the roster.
The Dodgers don't need a fifth starter again until either May 6 or 7, their first or second game against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium, with Chris Capuano ready to be activated off the disabled list for that start. Magill, who threw 103 pitches in his major league debut but is in line to be skipped on Thursday, was a prime candidate to be optioned back to Triple-A, but it's a decision that hasn't been made as of Saturday night.
"I can't say we've made a total decision on what we're going to do with (Magill)," Mattingly said. "He would also be a guy, depending on how we would need our pen, as possibly a guy who would pitch out of the pen."
The Dodgers pitching staff. Where even the answers have questions.
The Dodgers go for a second straight series win on Sunday, with Clayton kershaw on the mound trying to get the team back to .500. Kyle Lohse and his dislocated non-throwing pinkie start for the Brewers in the season finale.