Dodgers Now

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Category: Jeff Weaver

Fox News reports: Dodgers bullpen is leaning heavily to the right

If left field seems barren as the Mojave Desert, the Dodgers bullpen is a veritable metropolis.

It can be a tad confusing. During the second half, the Dodgers’ No. 1 problem was their inability to mount a consistent offense. To this frustrated group, they have added second baseman Juan Uribe. That’s all, folks.

Meanwhile, the bullpen is more crowded than George Clooney’s little black book. Arms here, arms there, arms everywhere. At least of the right-handed variety.

Certainly, last season the bullpen was a staggering disappointment. Relievers who had performed well the previous year -- Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario, Jeff Weaver, Ramon Troncoso -- almost went into a group funk.

Hong-Chih Kuo performed better than anyone had a right to expect, and Kenley Jansen shocked everyone with his stunning emergence. End of good news.

Now with the exception of Sherrill, and probably Weaver, they have all those arms back, plus they have Vicente Padilla, Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth.

Say what you will about general manager Ned Colletti, but he seems to learn from his mistakes.

Not having a fifth starter killed the Dodgers in the first half, and now he has his entire rotation filled out, plus Padilla available as a swing man. If he showed too much faith in his returning bullpen a year ago, now he’s in the surplus arms business.

And still can’t be done, can he?

Because there is still a real need for a second left-hander. Kuo is the lefty island, and he’s standing there with tenuous trust placed in that rebuilt elbow.

So Colletti adds Guerrier, who is a fine relief pitcher, but he’s 32 and got three years and $12 million. Multi-year deals for relievers are always a risky business, and this is money you thought might go toward finding a left fielder.

Another right-handed reliever did not scream pressing need. The Dodgers might carry eight relievers to start the season, but typically will go with seven.

You count: Broxton, Kuo, Guerrier, Jansen, Padilla, Belisario, Hawksworth, Troncoso and unnamed left-hander.

At the least, I’d say Troncoso was in some real trouble. Maybe somebody is dealt to bring in a lefty, or maybe they just cross their fingers really hard and give Scott Elbert a shot.

It’s only December, but for now there remains a black hole in left and a bevy of right-handed relievers. It’s only December, but it’s confusing.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Daily Dodger in review: Jeff Weaver provides only half of a good season

JEFF WEAVER, 34, relief pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 5-1, 6.09 ERA, no saves, 26 strikeouts, 20 walks, 1.53 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Free agent.

The good: Well, he did go 5-1. Had a 3.54 ERA before the All-Star break. Appeared in a career-high 43 games, not starting a game for the first time in his career. Pitched in nine of the first 14 games before going on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Allowed only six of 29 inherited runners to score (20.7%).

The bad: Had a 10.47 ERA after the All-Star break. His strikeouts per nine innings pitched went from 7.29 in 2009 to 5.28 last season. Went on the DL for a second time with knee tendinitis at the end of September and sported a 15.43 ERA in four September games upon his return.

What’s next: After a fairly solid 2009, he earned only a non-roster invite to camp last year. Again a free agent, that’s probably the best he could hope for next spring.

The take: Weaver said he’d like to pitch one more season. You don’t lose anything by inviting him to camp, but General Manager Ned Colletti knows he has to improve his bullpen and there figures to be some additions before spring training. Hopefully, fairly significant ones.

Weaver has been given up on plenty of times before and bounced back, so I’d be leery of writing him off. The bullpen needs an upgrade, and he’s a long ways from a lock, but it figures to be worth a non-roster invite to see if injuries were what brought him down so badly in last season's second half.

-- Steve Dilbeck

The frustrating season of Ronald Belisario

Jonathan Broxton’s second-half meltdown has been so staggering, it’s managed to overshadow an equally puzzling decline.

What in the name of Joe Charboneau happened to Ronald Belisario this season?

So completely nasty last season, so cover-the-eyes unpredictable this year.

Last season he was a bullpen godsend, a career minor leaguer who showed up late to camp and at age 26 made the club. And then became a dominant set-up man, posting a 2.04 ERA in 69 appearances.

This year he owns a 5.06 ERA. And that’s actually down from his 5.64 ERA on Sept. 1.

He joins Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill, Jeff Weaver and Broxton in forming a bullpen reversal that killed the Dodgers all season.

Belisario has gone from rookie sensation to sophomore letdown. And seemingly he is the cause of his own undoing.

His season began poorly when he missed training camp because he had trouble obtaining a visa over a DUI arrest last summer. He missed the first two weeks of the season and then struggled. He had a 7.20 ERA in his first 16 appearances.

But then seemingly in shape, he seemed to turn it around. Over his next 19 appearances, he had a 1.31 ERA. Belisario appeared back.

Until he vanished in the night.

Without explanation from either him or the club. His agent said it was for personal reasons, and that was all that was ever offered. The Times, however, reported he left the team to receive treatment in a substance abuse program.

He returned on Aug. 10 after being gone for over a month. In his next 13 appearances, he had a 13.00 ERA.

Belisario seemed back on track in September, but Tuesday he relieved Hiroki Kuroda and gave up a wild pitch and a two-run homer to Dexter Fowler that tied the game. When the Dodgers rallied the next inning, he was actually credited with an unsightly victory.

In a year of frustrating performances, it can be easy to overlook Belisario’s up-and-down season. Yet it remains highly disappointing and has left the Dodgers unable to count on him next season. They can hope he returns to form, but they can’t count on it.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Troy Tulowitzki shows Dodgers what clutch is: Powers pair of two-run homers in Rockies' 12-2 win

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This just in: That Troy Tulowitzki fellow is a pretty good player.

OK, so the possibility remains he’s something quite more than that. At the moment, he only seems the greatest player in the history of the universe.

Tulowitzki is currently taking the National League by storm. He’s hitting the beaches, dropping behind enemy lines, driving the tanks and back on the island plotting the whole assault.

All he did Saturday afternoon was hit a pair of two-run home runs against John Ely to lead the Rockies to a 12-2 whipping over the Dodgers.

Tulowitzki now has 14 home runs in September alone, a new Rockies record for home runs in a month. He’s tied Albert Belle and Barry Bonds for most homers ever in a 15-game span. The Rockies still have 14  games to go.

He’s hit three home runs in two days against the Dodgers. And he has four mult-homer games this season, all in the last 10 games.

Of course, all this came Saturday against a Dodgers team that looked so dead you expected them to roll over on their backs, stick their feet in the air and beg for toe tags.

Saturday marked their fourth consecutive loss and dropped them five games under .500 for the first time since May 5.

The Dodgers couldn’t put a run across against Jhoulys Chacin, whom they had pounded for five runs in five innings when he was last at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 17.

That was back when the Dodgers were still under the illusion they might pull off a remarkable comeback. You know, like the Rockies have. Colorado has won 13 of its last 15 games.

With Vicente Padilla shelved with his sore neck, the Dodgers turned to Ely, their early-season phenom. But since his unexpected 3-1 start, he has gone 1-7.

Ely (4-8, 5.00 earned-run average) is considered a candidate to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter next season, but he’ll have a long way to go from his recent appearances to earn serious consideration.

He lasted only 4 1/3 innings Saturday, giving up six runs on five hits and five walks. Jeff Weaver gave up the other six in the eighth.

Chacin (9-9) threw eight shutout innings. The Dodgers avoided being shut out when rookie Russ Mitchell hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Franklin Morales.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and catcher Miguel Olivo have some fun in the dugout after Tulowitzki's second home run on Saturday against the Dodgers. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press

Dodgers discover a new low -- losing 10-2 to leave the Giants in first place

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Lose enough games and you’ll suffer your share of indignities. Moments that haunt or embarrass or humble.

The Dodgers have learned that all too well this season, yet Thursday in San Francisco produced a new candidate for their season’s ultimate indignity:

Pushing the archrival Giants back into first place.

The Dodgers were fairly manhandled by the Giants, who pushed them around for a 10-2 victory Thursday that left San Francisco a half-game ahead of the Padres in the National League West.

The Giants haven’t been in first place since May 6.

Apparently, they just needed another shot at the Dodgers. Alas, Thursday was their last meeting. Now the Giants will have to find someone else to pick on.

The Giants took two of three in the series, and the season series 10-8. The next time they meet will be April Fool's Day, when the Dodgers open next season. Ah, next season …

The Dodgers completed their longest trip of the season at 3-7, continuing to wilt down the stretch.

They could do little with Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (11-8), who had a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven innings. He gave up four hits and did not walk a batter.

The Dodgers got an unearned run in the first and a solo home run by Russell Mitchell -- snapping his 0-15 streak to start his major league career -- in the fifth.

And that was it. Oh, and Ryan Theriot snapped his 0-for-27 streak.

Meanwhile, the Giants pounded the Dodgers, then pounded them some more. Then for fun, just a little more. Their 15 hits included three home runs, two triples and three doubles.

Ted Lilly was the only starter in the three-game series who wasn’t on his game.

Lilly (8-11, 5-3 as a Dodger) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs in the Giants’ four-run third inning.

That put the Giants up 5-1, and the way the Dodgers' offense has been going, ended the fog-shrouded evening’s suspense.

Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey all took Lilly deep, and then Jose Guillen did the same off Jeff Weaver. It was a party in San Francisco.

The Giants added a couple more against rookie reliever Jon Link.

Then the first-place Giants called it a night, won a season series against their rivals for the first time in five years, and sadly waved goodbye to the Dodgers.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas heads to the mound to talk to starting pitcher Ted Lilly in the third inning on Thursday night. Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

Dodgers get relief of another kind: Bullpen on its best roll of the season

He’s said it over and over, said it so many times you can hear it coming, can finish the sentence for him.

It’s the Joe Torre refrain: We’re only going to be as good as our pitching.

The Dodgers’ starters have been good for awhile now, but pitching means the entire staff, the bullpen too often inconsistent.

Only don’t look now, but guess which unit is suddenly acting like a team strength?

Every arm in the bullpen is suddenly looking reliable. With only slight exceptions, each reliever has been on a roll for most of the last two weeks. Yes, I’m talking about the Dodgers bullpen.

There are several reasons: health, starters going deeper into games, Torre finally swapping his closer and setup man, the addition of Octavio Dotel, the emergence of rookie phenom Kenley Jansen.

But at this moment, all the pieces are clicking. And more often, Torre is using his relievers in situational relief. Thursday when the bases were loaded with one out in the fifth, he successfully brought in Ronald Belisario for Ryan Braun and George Sherrill for Prince Fielder.

"That's why they are a good team," Fielder said. "Good move, bring in tough guys out of the bullpen to shut it down a little bit. That's what they get paid to do. Sometimes, they make mistakes. Sometimes, they don't."

They made plenty earlier in the season.

Sherrill had fallen so far off his dominating ’09 season (0.65 ERA), I said back on June 29 that the Dodgers needed to ask him to go back to triple-A. Torre had unfailing patience with the left-hander. Now he’s allowed a run in only one of his last six appearances. In four of those appearances, he was only asked to face one batter.

Jonathan Broxton, who lost his closer role to Hong-Chih Kuo, has also allowed runs in only one of his last six appearances.

And on it goes.

Dotel has allowed one run in his last nine games. Jansen continues to amaze, sporting a 0.77 ERA -- that’s one earned run in 11 2/3 innings (with 17 strikeouts). Belisario came back from his unexplained one-month absence and gave up four earned runs in consecutive appearances, and hasn’t allowed a run since (five games).  Kuo is 5-for-5 in save opportunities and has allowed runs just once in his last 10 appearances. Even Jeff Weaver pitched a perfect ninth in his return from the disabled list Thursday.

"Nothing against the starters, but I think the overuse there for a while got to everybody, really,’’Sherrill told ESPN/LA.com’s Tony Jackson. "But the starters hit their stride and started giving us more innings, and we were kind of able to mix and match for a couple of weeks there. It was a good chance for all of us to catch our breath and be able to relax and take a whole day off here and there and come back out when they needed us.’’

It could all end this weekend in Colorado. Right now, though, the Torre refrain is looking better than it has at any time this season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers' offense continues to roar in sweep of Brewers, 7-1

So like everyone was saying, the Dodgers are a regular offensive juggernaut.

Opposing pitchers best run for cover. They are eaten like snacks. Taken advantage of like the elderly.

Before the Dodgers step into the batter’s box these days, they drop their bats, pound their chests, look to the heavens and let out their best Tarzan cry.

OK, maybe not, but it must have felt that way to the Brewers after the Dodgers swept the three-game series in Milwaukee with a 7-1 victory Thursday afternoon.

The Dodgers, whose offense has sputtered since the All-Star break, collected double-digits hits in all three games. It was their first sweep of a road series since they took three from the Giants June 28-30.

Casey Blake hit a two-run homer, Scott Podsednik went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, Brad Ausmus had three hits and Ryan Theriot a pair to lead the resurgent offense.

And they managed it Thursday without Manny Ramirez, who was rested. And still a Dodger.

With Carlos Monasterios going 4 1/3 innings and four relievers shutting the Brewers down the rest of the way, it was more than enough offense to beat Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo (11-6).

They suddenly have some very late-season momentum, moving into a key three-game series this weekend in Colorado. The Rockies are one of four teams ahead of the Dodgers in the National League wild-card race.

The Dodgers collected 32 hits in the three games in Milwaukee, including nine doubles and four home runs.

The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and fifth innings, before putting the game away with Blake’s two-run homer in the sixth and adding three more in the seventh.

Six of the runs were charged against Gallardo. That matched his season high, though it was the second time in three starts.

Monasterios allowed only two hits, one a Prince Fielder solo home run -- does he hit any other kind? -- but left the game in fifth after loading the bases with one out on two hit batters and a walk.

Despite it being only the fifth, manager Joe Torre went to the same matchups he had successfully used the previous night, getting right-hander Ronald Belisario to strike out Ryan Braun and left-hander George Sherrill to induce Fielder to bounce out.

Rookie Kenley Jansen threw two scoreless innings, Octavio Dotel one, and Jeff Weaver the ninth to complete the Dodgers' first sweep of the Brewers in four years.

The six Dodgers pitchers combined to throw a two-hitter.

-- Steve Dilbeck

For the Dodgers, the bad news just keeps coming: Rafael Furcal injures back, Manny Ramirez return pushed back, Jeff Weaver to DL

If the cavalry’s coming, it must be in disguise. Familiar faces are starting to drop. And one of them is very scary.

The pregame news was all bad for the Dodgers on Tuesday, and that was besides the six-game losing streak.

-- Manny Ramirez, rehabbing his latest leg injury in Phoenix, suffered what Manager Joe Torre described as a setback. The Dodgers hoped he could start a minor league rehab assignment this week, but now he has been pushed back again.

-- Seems there is an explanation for the decline of right-handed reliever Jeff Weaver after all, the Dodgers putting him on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis and calling Ramon Troncoso back up.

-- Of most concern, shortstop Rafael Furcal, possibly their most valuable player this season, was held out of the lineup because of a strained lower back. Furcal, who had lower-back surgery in 2008, was scheduled to have an MRI exam.

At a time when the Dodgers need to add a bat in Ramirez, his return has been pushed further back, and then they lost another in Furcal. And the Furcal news had to send a shiver through the organization.

Torre said Furcal felt something on a hard throw to first base Monday night in the fifth inning on a Yorvit Torrealba infield hit.

Furcal sat out 125 games in 2008 after injuring his lower back May 12. He battled back to join the Dodgers in the postseason.

"Hopefully, it just happened and he felt it on that play," Torre said. "Hopefully, it indicates something that’s not related. But we won’t know that until we get the MRI back."

Torre had expected Ramirez to join the team Tuesday, and then decide on where to begin a rehab assignment. But he said team trainer Stan Conte went to Phoenix on Tuesday to check on Ramirez's progress and came back reporting Ramirez was still a week off before playing in any rehab games.

"It’s frustrating," Torre said. "It’s disappointing because you want his bat in the lineup."

Ramirez, 38, is hitting .317 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in, but has played in only 61 games. It’s his third time this season on the disabled list because of a right leg injury.

Weaver was 3-0 with a 1.13 earned-run average in June. He has a 9.22 ERA since. He finally confessed to the knee tendinitis after giving up five runs in two innings Monday.

"You don’t know what he deals with on a regular basis, but he’s probably pitched effectively with it too," Torre said. "But I think over time, it eventually gets to you."

Troncoso was 1-2 with a 5.15 ERA with the Dodgers before being sent to triple-A Albuquerque. It isn’t like he turned it around at Albuquerque, where he was 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA in 10 games.

"OK, inconsistent," Torre said. "We’ll see. Maybe back here he can find that thing he had earlier this year and last year."

-- Steve Dilbeck

Here's one more thing for the Dodgers to worry about: Jeff Weaver has taken the wrong kind of turn

Weaver Like the sinking Dodgers don’t have enough going on, now they have to be concerned about Jeff Weaver.

Weaver seemed like he had taken to his role as a middle reliever in June, when he went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

Except in his nine games since, he’s had a 9.22 ERA.

Those are some serious highs and lows, and there is no easy explanation.

The right-hander had a particularly tough night Monday, allowing five runs in two innings.

One minute he can’t be touched, the next he’s on the ropes.

"He’s struggling," said manager Joe Torre. "He’s struggling. He’s either striking people out or they’re hitting home runs. It’s a weird combination."

Monday he gave up five hits to the Padres, one a three-run homer to Chase Headley, walked one and struck out three. In his previous outing Friday in San Francisco, he gave up two runs in two innings, one on a Aubrey Huff home run.

Weaver had given up only one home run in his previous 34 games.

How could he be so good in June, and so bad since?

"I wished I knew," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. ``It seems like he makes two good pitches, then a couple of bad ones. Looking at the game after it’s over, it’s just a little consistency.

"He’s still getting some strikeouts so obviously his stuff still good. It seems like right now anytime he makes a mistake, there seems to be damage.’’

Overall this season, Weaver is 5-1 with a 4.37 ERA. But the bullpen has been filled with unreliable arms this season, and the Dodgers need Weaver to return to form.

To resemble the Weaver they had in June, not July.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jeff Weaver reacts after surrendering a three-run home run to San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley on Monday night. Credit: Kirby Lee/ Image of Sport -- U.S. Presswire

Dodgers fall nine games back as losing streak hits six with 10-5 loss to Padres

Gloom felt omnipresent, on the bases, at the plate and, on this night, even on the mound.

There was no real news to come from the Dodgers on Monday, only more failed repetition. More questions lacking answers, more blank stares.

The Dodgers fell deeper into their hole, the light growing still dimmer after they suffered their sixth consecutive loss, falling 10-5 to the Padres.

The loss dropped the Dodgers to a season-high nine games back of the Padres in the National League West.

Even on a night when the offense showed signs of life, too often Dodgers had trouble getting out of their own way. The defense committed two errors. Matt Kemp had a career-high five hits but another base-running blunder. And the pitching, the one thing that had been solid even during the skid, crumbled.

The Dodgers collected 14 hits, their most in a game since July 3, and they weren't even close to earning their first victory in six games.

The Dodgers managed seven hits in the first three innings alone -- yet failed to score.

In the first, the Dodgers got two-out singles from Kemp and James Loney. Casey Blake followed with a sharp single to center, and Kemp rounded third and headed home for what should have been an easy run.

Only Loney tried to go from first to third on the hit and just was tagged for the third out … before Kemp, running at something much less than full speed, was able to cross the plate.

Earlier this season, the Dodgers lost 2-1 to the Angels in Anaheim when Russell Martin took too wide a turn at second and was tagged out before Reed Johnson touched the plate. Earlier in that inning, Kemp had been picked off second by Brian Fuentes.

The game remained scoreless until the Padres broke through with four runs against Hiroki Kuroda (8-10) in the fourth. Will Venable, hitting .229, broke the scoreless affair by powering a three-run homer.

And that should have been the end of the Padres scoring in the inning, but after a Chris Denoria single, San Diego starter Clayton Richard (9-5) bunted a sacrifice in front of the plate.

Martin fielded it and elected to fire to second, but the throw was off for an error. Miguel Tejada blooped a two-run single to center, and the Padres led 5-0.

The Dodgers got two runs on singles by pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard and Kemp in the bottom of the inning, but the Padres got both back against suddenly struggling Jeff Weaver.

Chase Headley added a three-run homer against Weaver in the sixth, and it was 10-2 Padres. And the night was looking just a tad too familiar to the Dodgers.

Not the two runs the Dodgers added in the sixth, not Kemp’s 18th home run of the season in the eighth were going to ease the gloom of another loss.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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