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Who pitches the eighth? Maybe Jansen

10/3/2014

LOS ANGELES – Postseason games so often are decided by bullpens, and that, more than anything else, has been an unsettling thought for the Los Angeles Dodgers going into this series. A year ago at this time, manager Don Mattingly could bank on Brian Wilson pitching the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen the ninth.

Those days are gone. Jansen repeated his success of 2013, but the eighth inning became a revolving door after Wilson had some elbow issues and saw his velocity decline. Brandon League and J.P. Howell were asked to get outs in the eighth, as was youngster Pedro Baez. It became about matchups, but it was rarely stress-free.

The bullpen might be the St. Louis CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals’ one clear edge in this series. The Dodgers scored nearly 100 more runs than St. Louis and their starters allowed fewer runs. But St. Louis’ bullpen has been rounding into form – with flamethrower Carlos Martinez often pitching the eighth inning – while the Dodgers’ bullpen was struggling at the end of September.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated that Jansen could, at times, be his own setup man. He said he wouldn’t hesitate to ask Jansen to get four, five or even six outs at the end of games in the postseason.

“You’re going to do what you have to do to win games at this point,” Mattingly said. “These guys didn’t come this far and go, ‘Oh, I’m tired, I really don’t want to get five outs, Donnie.’ They’re going to go, ‘I want to win.’ So, that’s what we’re going to do.”