Results tagged ‘ J.P. Howell ’

Andrew Friedman, Dave Roberts explain Dodgers’ NLDS roster choices

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers faced several hard choices in coming up with their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series — and to some extent, the specific matchup with the Washington Nationals served as a tiebreaker.

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Two seasons, 80 Dodgers

CHICAGO CUBS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERS

By Jon Weisman

Dodger Stadium is the land of opportunity. In a month shy of two seasons, the Dodgers have used the equivalent of two 40-man rosters.

On Friday, Carlos Ruiz became the 80th person to play for the Dodgers since Opening Day 2015.

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Kenta Maeda could provide bullpen a save

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 2.20.10 PM

Dodgers at Cardinals, 4:15 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Toles, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Kenta Maeda, P

By Cary Osborne

On July 23, the Dodgers could use a July 10 Kenta Maeda.

Maeda went seven innings on July 10 against the San Diego Padres — one of just two times this month when a Dodger starter has completed seven innings (the other being Scott Kazmir’s seven innings on Tuesday).

Today’s callup of Ross Stripling gives a gassed bullpen a much needed long man. Since the All-Star Break, the Dodgers are third in baseball in relief innings — 31 2/3. The last two games, the Dodgers made 15 trips to the bullpen — using seven relievers in Washington on Thursday and eight in last night’s 16-inning 4-3 loss in St. Louis, including starter Bud Norris for 1 1/3 innings.

Here’s the recent timesheet punched by Dodger relievers:

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How the revitalized bullpen keyed Dodgers’ surge

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In the Dodgers’ final inning before the All-Star Break, the best closer in the National League, Kenley Jansen, entered the game to protect a one-run lead against the fourth-place team in the National League West.

At that moment, the Dodger bullpen was several weeks into an extended resurgence that was forcing fans and media alike to unlearn everything it thought it knew about the team’s relievers. It progressed in stages, as if reversing the five stages of grief.

  • Hooray — they actually held a lead for once.
  • All right, I’ve stopped throwing things every time a reliever comes in.
  • I know this won’t last, but thank you for at least being adequate.
  • Hmm. Some of these guys are actually pretty good.
  • I don’t want to jinx this. But … wow.

Dodger bullpen failures have been branded into the collective memory of recent years, the scar tissue making it nearly impossible for most to feel the moments when the relievers were doing well — which, of course, was more often than the distraught and cynical could concede.

But by the time Jansen took the mound Sunday, the bullpen’s growing success was no longer possible to ignore.

Dodger relievers lead the Major Leagues with a 2.83 ERA. They lead the Major Leagues with a 1.02 WHIP.

In fact, as Dodger broadcaster Joe Davis pointed out, the Dodger bullpen’s opponents batting average of .192 is currently the lowest in modern baseball history. The team’s WHIP is the lowest in NL history.

That’s extraordinary. And that’s not wishcasting. That’s something that has been happening. The Dodger bullpen has become the opposite of an albatross. It’s a primary reason that, despite the “I Love Lucy” chocolate conveyor belt of injuries, that Los Angeles (51-40) is on a 91-win pace and once again a team to be reckoned with.

In terms of inherited runners stranded, the Dodgers were seventh among MLB teams at 72 percent — in the upper echelon but with room for improvement. The good news — the great news — is that the improvement is already underway.

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Gonzalez gets a big hit, but Jansen gets hit too often

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

From the seventh inning on Saturday in San Francisco, the Dodgers had the advantage against the Giants.

Bullpen vs. bullpen favored the Dodgers. And with Adrian Gonzalez’s go-ahead solo home run in the top of the 10th inning, the advantage went from a moat to the Pacific Ocean with Kenley Jansen on the mound.

Jansen, who had the opportunity to pick up career save No. 160 (which would have put him one behind all-time Dodger leader Eric Gagné) couldn’t make the most of that advantage.

Jansen, who didn’t have an easy save on Friday night, gave up the tying and winning runs in the Giants’ 5-4 win.

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Marathon outing shows J.P. Howell has bounced back

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

J.P. Howell allowed four runs in this April 7 game at San Francisco — and has allowed four runs since. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Before Sunday, J.P. Howell hadn’t pitched two complete innings in a game since 2013, and hadn’t pitched three innings since 2008.

But in the Dodgers’ 17-inning victory over San Diego, Howell whipped through nine outs, allowing only one hit. Considering the outing, his 35 pitches were economical, but they were still an unusually high total for the 33-year-old. Not that he was complaining.

“I haven’t pitched too much this year, so it was kind of nice to be out there for that long period of time,” said Howell.

In fact, Howell said he was ready to come back and pitch Monday if needed. Tuesday was a different story, however.

“You go three innings, you can pitch the next day,” he said. “It’s day two — it’s like once you stop and recovery starts to happen, it’s over.

“So for me, it was yesterday — I was really feeling it. And it’s not your arm, it’s your body, just the middle of your body, the whole core — the front and the back is stiff.”

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Avilan, Bolsinger called up — Tsao to disabled list, Stripling optioned

Ross Stripling pitched three shutout innings Sunday. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Ross Stripling, whose season began with 7 1/3 no-hit innings April 8 in San Francisco, pitched three shutout innings Sunday in his relief debut. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Regrouping after throwing 582 pitches in three games at San Diego — and losing one of their pitchers to the disabled list in the process — the Dodgers are bringing up two fresh arms for their pitching staff.

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In case you missed it: Dodgers option Liberatore, hone in on bullpen

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Adam Liberatore has struck out 11 in nine Cactus League innings this year.

Dodgers at Padres, 1:10 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Chase Utley, 2B
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Ross Stripling, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers are down to two left-handers in their Major League bullpen after optioning Adam Liberatore to the minors following the team’s 5-4 victory Monday over Texas.

The question now is, will they go down to one?

Since we last checked in on the bullpen, it has been whittled in predictable fashion, leaving the following:

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Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell form unlikely combo

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

From the pages of Dodger Insider magazine …

By Cary Osborne

They could hardly be any more opposite.

Kenley Jansen is from Curacao, and J.P. Howell is from California. Jansen’s huge — 6 feet and 5 inches tall and 265 pounds, and Howell is a regular 6 feet and a buck eighty-five.

Jansen’s a right-handed closer, Howell a left-handed set-up man.

Jansen throws hard and Howell … doesn’t throw as hard.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop. Stop there,” Jansen interrupted the comparison, pointing out that Howell’s sinker makes up for his slow fastball. “It’s not about the hard. It’s about the heaviness. To me, throwing hard and heavy is the same thing. Let’s stop there.”

“That’s my boy,” Howell chimed in, laughing at Jansen’s defense.

As dissimilar as Jansen and Howell might appear, they share a unique bond that works so well that they have a name for their combination: “Cookies n’ Cream.”

“I’m the cookie, you’re the cream,” Jansen said to Howell.

The cream of the crop, it should be added. Both of them.

In a short period of time, Jansen and Howell have become two of the most dominating relief pitchers in Dodger history. They have shared a connection beyond that as well — one that has proven to be beneficial to both, personally and professionally.

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Sometimes the good guys win

By Cary Osborne

On a recent December evening, I was on the phone with a man who I hold in high regard, so his words mean a lot to me.

During the conversation, he congratulated me for an accomplishment and said five words that resonated with me: “Sometimes the good guys win.”

The good guys.

I thought about that.

I realized by him calling me one of the good guys he saw more in me than I thought. And though I’ve failed him at times, he remembered my victories more than my losses.

And that’s truly how I feel when I look back at the Dodgers in 2015.

I think of the good guys and how they won.

It would be easier to think of loss when thinking about the Dodgers because that’s how their season ended and that’s how many people look at recent events for the team.

My experience is different.

I watched guys who I’ve grown to like not as players, but people, succeed.

I look at Justin Turner and what he’s become — not just on the field, but off it.

After the 2013 season, he was non-tendered by the New York Mets. Essentially, he was fired by the Mets because they had no use for him.

He came to the Dodgers a non-roster invite to Spring Training camp in 2014.

In the last two years, he has statistically been one of baseball’s best third basemen. He had a bobblehead this year. And it would be hard to find a fan who doesn’t cheer for him when he comes to the plate.

Turner plays hurt, is friendly and giving of his time and so hard not to like. On top of all that, he is one of the most active Dodgers in the community, having made hospital visits on gamedays, he has participated in charity events of different types and is always, always smiling.

It’s safe to say that by establishing himself as the Dodgers everyday third baseman in 2015, Justin Turner won.

So did J.P. Howell.

By Howell deciding to exercise the option year on his contract instead of becoming a free agent, it tells you right there how big his heart is for Los Angeles and the Dodgers. But then, it’s not all that surprising.

Howell is approachable, happy, fun and positive.

He’s been a significant influence on Dodger relievers, but specifically on Kenley Jansen who he treats like a brother. He checks in on Kenley, counsels him and shows him how to become a better big leaguer.

Howell is charitable and is a good husband. He and wife Heather created an inspirational nonprofit called Discover Your Path to help youth stay on the right path.

Not only did Howell have another fantastic season, he made this play that still drops my jaw:

J.P. Howell had major shoulder surgery in 2010 to repair his labrum. He’s not big and he doesn’t throw fast. But those haven’t held him back from becoming one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.

I can’t not bring A.J. Ellis into this conversation.

When the Dodgers acquired Yasmani Grandal, it spelled the end of Ellis’ everyday role behind the plate.

And yet, it never changed Ellis’ approach and preparation.

On days when Ellis didn’t start, I would always see one thing or the other.

Ellis would either be dripping with sweat because he was working out, hitting or getting other baseball work done, or he’d be in the video room studying or preparing pitchers for that day’s game.

That’s A.J.

And when Grandal was hurt in the second half, Ellis stepped right in and was one of the best offensive catchers in the Majors.

During the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, I made my way down to the back of the field level section behind home plate. It was the same exact place I stood two years earlier when Jansen got the last three outs of the NLDS to send the Dodgers to the NL Championship Series. Maybe I felt there was still some magic left in that area.

Ellis was the second batter of the ninth and he struck out swinging. Then Jeurys Familia struck out Howie Kendrick and the Dodgers lost.

That’s all some people will take from 2015.

Not me.

I have a different takeaway.

I think of what that man said to me on the phone. Five words. And I can be content with this season.