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Closer controversy? Please

5/15/2013

LOS ANGELES -- Don Mattingly wasn't more than a handful of questions into his postgame media session Tuesday night when the topic abruptly shifted from Clayton Kershaw's dominance to whether he has a new closer.

In a way, it's amazing that issue didn't arise weeks earlier. Many people thought Kenley Jansen was a better ninth-inning option than Brandon League before the season even began.

Circumstances seem to have finally born that out. League never budged in the ninth inning as Kershaw began to run out of pitches. Lefty Paco Rodriguez got up, as did Jansen, who struck out the final batter to earn his second save.

So, yeah, the Dodgers probably have a new closer -- Jansen -- but in a way it's not a particularly important question. Mattingly had been using Jansen to get the other team's best hitters in earlier situations. If the No. 3 and 4 hitters were up in the seventh, Jansen pitched then. If it was the eighth, that's when he got the ball.

He might find pitching the ninth to be less stressful, not more.

Hitters apparently find it a challenge to make contact off Jansen these days. He has 15 strikeouts and three walks in his last nine innings. Contrast that with League's five strikeouts and three walks -- plus his 9.82 ERA, his blown save and two losses -- in his last seven games and it seems to be the right time to make a move.

Jansen said he doesn't care when he pitches.

"Whenever they say your name, just try to go out there and get the first out. Then, get the second out and the third," Jansen said. "That's all I'm trying to focus on. I'm not going to try to strike people out, but if I get two strikes, heck yeah, you try and put them away."

Here are lineups for Wednesday night's game with the Washington Nationals:

Washington

1. Denard Span CF

2. Steve Lombardozzi LF

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Adam LaRoche 1B

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Danny Espinosa 2B

8. Roger Bernadina RF

9. Ross Detwiler LHP

Dodgers

1. Dee Gordon SS

2. Nick Punto 2B

3. Matt Kemp CF

4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B

5. A.J. Ellis C

6. Andre Ethier RF

7. Scott Van Slyke LF

8. Juan Uribe 3B

9. Zack Greinke RHP