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Daily Dodger in Review: Javy Guerra, the unexpected closer

October 19, 2011 | 11:49 am

, 26 on Halloween, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 2-2, 21 saves in 23 opportunities, 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings, .218 opponent batting average in 46 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: The great surprise of the Dodgers’ 2011 season. If you saw this one coming, you predicted Lady Gaga. You knew the Cardinals would make the World Series.

The rookie may not have consistently blown people away in that classic closer mode, but he was a model of consistency. If he hadn’t allowed a pair of runs in his final game of the season — coming on his fourth appearance in five days — he would have finished the season with a sub-2.00 ERA. Until that last appearance, had been successful in all but one of his 22 save opportunities. Has a good, confident presence on the mound.

The bad: His one season did not leave much to complain about. He has room to improve in most areas, but none really screamed out as some kind of obvious weakness.

What’s next: Say hello to your 2012 Dodgers closer. Clearly, the Dodgers need to draft more pitchers from Texas (Clayton Kershaw, Nate Eovaldi, Shawn Tolleson).

The take: Guerra was called up from double-A Chattanooga on May 15 when right-hander Blake Hawksworth was placed on the 15-day disabled list to nurse a sore groin. A couple of weeks and it figured he was out of here. Something of an emergency fill-in.

Instead, he pitched well, Vicente Padilla was lost for the season, Lance Cormier was released, and Guerra was still standing. When Guerra earned his first save in May, it seemed no big deal. He was given only one more opportunity in June.

But in July, the team still struggling to replace Jonathan Broxton as the closer, he saved six games in as many chances. Manager Don Mattingly was understandably careful to name the green right-hander his closer, but Guerra was off and running. He seized an opportunity few even recognized.

Because he doesn’t hit the 100 mph mark, people were hesitant to believe in Guerra (yeah, that’s my hand up), but he just kept getting the job done. Now with hard-throwing Kenley Jansen as his lights-out set-up man, the back end of the Dodgers bullpen appears set. And possibly for years to come.


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-- Steve Dilbeck

 Photo: Dodgers closer Javy Guerra. Credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images