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Don Mattingly, the ace and the bullpen from hell

Mattingly_640 There’s a time to show faith in your players, and a time to touch base with reality. Don Mattingly showed way too much love for his miserable bullpen Tuesday night.

They are not very good to begin with, and then they just got beat up for four wild days in Colorado. Not that it’s all their fault. Of the seven arms in the bullpen, only two were supposed to be here -- and that’s counting Blake Hawksworth, who might not have made it if Ronald Belisario ever discovered north from south.

The Dodgers sport the worst bullpen (4.80 ERA) in the National League. It ranks 29th in the majors, ahead of only Minnesota, though they are closing fast.

Yet Tuesday night in a 1-1 game after seven innings, with the guy who is their one legitimate stud in the rotation -- Clayton Kershaw -- throwing smoothly and in command, Mattingly lifted him to start the eighth ... because the Reds pinch-hit Miguel Cairo to lead off the inning?

At that point, Kershaw had allowed four hits and two walks (one intentional). He had thrown a reasonable 104 pitches. It was still his game to win or lose. Anyway, you would think so.

Mattingly took one look at the right-handed hitting Cairo and called on the right-handed Hawksworth, and the left-handed Kershaw walked off the mound without having thrown a pitch in the eighth.

And the game quickly slipped away. Hawksworth, Scott Elbert and Mike MacDougal combined to give up runs in the eighth and ninth, and the Dodgers lost 3-2.

After Cairo, right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips followed in the order. Then came left-handers Joe Votto and Jay Bruce.

"It was just the two righties up front, I wanted to [keep] Stubbs and Phillips off the bases," Mattingly said. "Not wanting to get to those lefties and him being at 115, 120 [pitches] at that point.

"You’re right, it’s one of those situations you look back and go, 'This is your guy.' But tonight was just one of those nights where I wanted to get those righties out."

By calling down to that marvelous bullpen. The one with three rookies in it. Two who were pitching at double A last month.

Kershaw, naturally, did not want to leave the game.

"I was always disappointed," he said. "I always want to keep throwing. I always want to pitch, Donny knows that. At the same time, I’m not going to question his judgment. He trusts the bullpen, just like I do."

I trust in his ability to recognize exactly what he has down in the bullpen right now. And that is reality.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire

Comments () | Archives (18)

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One day, Mattingly will look back at this year and be able to laugh. One day we'll all be able to laugh, but right now it's tough to be a Dodger fan. "I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved the Dodgers, a great team I’m told
I give them my heart but they wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right"

Donnie's in way over his head, but at least he's cheap, that and now he gets his minor league experience.

the notion that Kershaw is some sorta "stud" in the rotation is utter nonsense........
no doubt, he's the best these "duds" can muster, butt that's hardly any praise or compliment at all............

on a truly talented staff, i.e., Phils, he'd be lucky to be the #4 starter, which is truly more in line w/his (so-called) "talent".........

his best "ability" is to typically pitch about 6 so-so innings, & get a no-decision, hardly the stuff of which true staff aes are made......

the guy is NOT now, nor neva shall be, any ace of a true contender!!!!

hmmmm, quite newsworthy that MLB veteran Rolen now a left-handed batter????
(ought to get ur faX straight, Dilbeck????)

BFH ... incredibly accurate ... good job Steve D.

(I henceforth yield to BFH in lieu of wusspen ... but they're still wusses)

He's an awful manager, but we all knew that he would be. Too bad the Dodger organization was asleep at the wheel yet again.

Donnie is a leader he just needs time. Though its about enough time for him to realize that Kershaw cannot handle climate changes well (see marlins and rockies away games) and after he can't keep his fastball down, he's gassed and showed be removed. He was left in too long in florida and colorado, and yet last night, was going well and taken out. Makes no sense. These are 3 losses that should be Ws. Kershaw is an ace, his stuff is insane (ask the hitters and see the strike out standings), but he is not being handled well this year, as last night showed. I hope these mistakes by Donnie end after the all star break - and why the heck is Kemp not the no. 1 vote getter?

SomeNevaLearnLeftFromRight: And here I was hoping for a left-handed compliment. That one, as they say, is on me. Thanks, has been corrected.

Coletti is a bum.
As we knew before the season started, Navaro sucks, we have no left fielder, Furcall would be be on the DL and Blake is too old. And our bullpen is a pile of #$%&. Kuo was the only guy we could count on, and this team made him lose his mojo.
When are we going to stop hiring Yanks to be our Skipper, they have no NL clue. They are used to an all star team of firepower, and have no feel for manufacturing runs. This team is tough to swallow.

McCourts you Suuuuuuuuck.

you know.. i cant say that its tough to be a Dodger fan, i mean.. the team that is on the field is really not a bad team, somehow the dodgers can get it done. they are missing a good bullpen yes, but the starting pitching is solid and the starting lineup is really good (apart from loney and his absence of power).. i have not been to a game in a while, but i really wanted to see Dee Gordon in person and you know what.. the guy is amazing and this was the first time this year that i was able to watch kemp out there and he looks like an MVP.
i am not sure we make it to the world series, but i can see this team getting into the playoffs and winning the west. its not out of reach in the least, all we need is this bullpen to come together and not blow any leads.
now, what really annoyed me about the game last night is this...
the stadium looked like it was half full, yet i still waited in line for well over an hour to get a beer and the parking situation is and always will be a mess there... i love the park, its beautiful... but i would love it we could get a smaller stadium near the staples center.. something we can get to via train... a place more accessible and more fan friendly, like petco.

Evey once in a while I read an article that reads like I wrote it myself, this was one of them. That's what I call "Telling it like it is". Nice job Steve.

You'd think the Dodger offense would be firing with a Hall of Fame caliber hitter managing the club, especially a former hitting coach, but no, the Dodgers are running on empty, with great starting pitching going to waste, because of poor defense, poor hitting, and dead cows in the bullpen. When is that wussy getting paid a couple of million going to get over his anxiety attacks and start closing games? Man up! Facing the fans at Dodger stadium for an inning or two every other game is no big deal compared to the soldiers facing the Taliban everyday in Afghanistan. Man up, wussy.

Not sure what we're debating. This is just a bad team with less than a handful of solid major leaguers. It wasn't going anywhere during the offseason when it was so "deftly" put together. It wasn't going anywhere in ST and when the season started. And it isn't going anywhere in October except home.

labeldude is exactly right

If Kershaw was the "stud" of the staff, he would have been pitching into the ninth inning. That's what "studs" do. He would have talked Mattingley into keeping him in there. If he's the guy, he stays in. He's a very good pitcher, and he may be, compared to the rest of this very mediocre staff, the "ace," but on the Giants, for instance, he'd be the number three starter. He's good, but he has yet to prove he's a Koufax, Drysdale or Valenzuela.

Steve, a compilation of Mattingly's not-ready-for-major-league moves is completely missing from Dodger print coverage. This guy has lost several games with his in-game moves, and others for his sometimes miserably laughable line-ups.

And please don't tell me he's working with what he's got. WITH WHAT HE'S GOT, he's mismanaging. Game after game after game. How do we get this stunning amateur sent down? How do we get him on the DL, for reasons of lack of ability in mental preparedness? Where are his vaunted leadership skills? Want to see leadership in a rookie manager? Check out what Gibson is doing with a MUCH LOUSIER ROSTER in Phoenix.

Mattingly must be sent down within the organization to learn how to manage. If he wouldn't like it or sees it as the personal embarrassment it is, SHIFF TUT. He shows no signs of learning from his repeated, sometimes inexplicable moves when the guy in the bleachers and the guy incredulous in front of his tv knows better. His quixotic moves are not paying off and, as you chronicled above, loses games that could have been won.

He is, like Colletti, a McCourt Dodger. We all need to stop making excuses for his abominable decisions and lineups. On-the-job training should happen way down somewhere, not in Dodger Stadium. And the fact he has not improved since his first bonehead moves in April tells me he'll need to take a long time to figure it out up here, let alone do it as he should, having to work his way back up with proven success. I don't have that many years of patience to waste on this dud.

Meantime, Arizona's smarter upper managment shows yet another diamond, still in the rough, got away from the '88 champions. First Scioscia, now Gibson. That can be blamed on the lack of institutional memory. How much would you bet against the idea McCourt can give you the friggin Red Sox lineup in '88, but not ours?

Donnie Baseball. The Curse of Joe Torre.

There are a number of former Dodgers who are now managers who are getting the job done. Washington, Roenicke, and Gibson to name three. Mattingly, a former Yankee and Torre acolyte, does not have the ability to motivate this team beyond its current mediocre status. The Dodgers need to take a page out of Oakland's book. Mattingly needs to go.

Yeah, Donnie is cheap (unless there is a hidden deferred payment, lol). McCourts could not afford to pay a legitimate, seasoned Manager.

I never thought Mattingly was the right man for the job. He has little, to no, managerial experience, and worse yet, he was a terrible hitting coach for the Dodgers prior to his promotion. The only reason he got the job is because he was cheap and affordable.

Dodgers would be better off bringing Lasorda back (I'd actually "pay" to see that!), but the way they are playing, it might jeopardize his health.


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