Dave Roberts

USA Today

Pen Problems

The alarms are getting louder and louder as October gets closer and closer.

August 14, 2018 - 11:53 am

Don’t look now but the lazy dog days of summer have very quickly turned into the critical dogfights of summer. And there’s a few scraps going down in baseball right now on a nightly basis. So if you’re one of those cats who waits till the 25th hour to get your seamhead on—now would be the time to find that remote control. 

Because in the American League—the A’s are saddled up on a damn rocket ship and might just run down the Astros and force H-Town into a winner-take-all donnybrook in the Bronx.

And in National League—11 of the 15 squads have at least a pulse. Which is insane at this point of the season. And right in the middle of it all? The Los Angeles Dodgers—who have more pressure than any team in baseball to not only get back to the World Series—but to finally rip the first one since ’88. 

And the level of urgency has been ratcheted up to 12 with only 42 games left on the schedule. So when Clayton Kershaw spins 8 frames of 1-run ball—and your lead in the NL West is on the line—you better finish that game. Especially against the Giants—especially at home—especially coming off eating a broom in Colorado this past weekend.

But the Dodger’s bully picked up right where they left off. And ever since Dave Roberts has had to look for anyone to step in for Kenley Jansen who is on the DL with irregular heartbeat—he’s found nothing but a bunch of pyros who’d rather the light joint on fire. And last night was no different. Kersh goes 8 and leaves the bump with a 2-1 lead—and Scott Alexander took his turn burning things to the ground, and blowing the game.

That’s now four games in a row that the Dodgers ‘pen has blown. Credit to Scotty Alexander, though, for making it really obvious that Doc should never phone down for him again. Except that’s the problem. Skip can’t find anyone who wants the rock. And things have gotten so dire that Ross Stripling and Kenta Maeda have been yanked from the rotation and sent to bully to hopefully stabilize that damn thing. 

Look, the Dodgers are right there in the West and the Wild Card. But, if this team somehow misses the playoffs it’ll be first time since 2012. And everyone will know exactly where to the point the digit. And no one will cry for a 200 million dollar team going through untimely injuries. They know that. Just like they know that in this town, with this payroll, and this front office, and this roster, and this 30-year-title drought—there are no excuses. None. And those five straight division banners might be nice—but the Dodgers aren’t in the division banner hanging business. They’re in the parade business. And business has been slow for three decades.

I’m not saying they can’t turn it around. Because they can. But I am saying that someone down in the bullpen better answer the damn bell before it’s too late. Because the alarms are getting louder and louder as October gets closer and closer. Someone—anyone—finish a freaking game.