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Whicker: Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen isn’t the only closer who spreads worry and dread

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first_imgIn this long-distance year, the bullpens generally are behaving the way they always have. This year’s bullpen WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) throughout baseball is 1.37. That is up only 0.04 from 2018 and 0.08 from 2015. Fifteen years ago it was 1.40. More significantly, relievers have a strikeout rate of 23.5 percent, way up from 18.2 percent in 2014.But if all outs are the same, why do we remember the 25th, 26th and 27th that get away?  How many World Series trophies would be resting in Atlanta if Smoltz had been closing all along?And if Jansen has been such a problem, why are the Dodgers 11-4 in walk-offs this year and the Cubs, Astros and Mets a combined 18-21?Until the answers come, the public address system will keep playing “California Love” every time the big man opens the door. It won’t drown out Billy Joel in the ears of the fans, warning of “Pressure.” But fearsome closers like Gagne, John Smoltz, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner are missed. They enrich the game. In 2002 Smoltz had 55 saves and Gagne had 52 and seven others had at least 40.  Kimbrel led the National League in saves three consecutive years when he pitched for Atlanta.The sure-thing closer turns the sixth and seventh innings into the red zone. You either score before he loosens up, or forget it. In 2008 Brad Lidge had 41 saves in 41 chances for the champion Phillies, and Mariano Rivera 39 of 40 for the Yankees. In 2017 Jansen went 41 for 42 for L.A., but then he got torched in Game 2 of the World Series, and nothing has been the same.With a little more than a month left, Yates and Chapman are the only closers with more than 30 saves, although Hand, Osuna and Smith have 29.The defending World Series champion Red Sox, who let Kimbrel go, have converted 51 percent of their save opportunities. Last season, their rate was 70 percent.This is not to diminish the general nervousness about Jansen. He was the most effective one-pitch pony since Rivera. Now the cutter is not as fast and not as elusive. “It’s a transition,” Roberts said.The manager emphasized that Jansen still owns the ninth, but he was not satisfied with Jansen’s “sequencing” on the home run to Tellez. Jansen threw five splitters in his seven pitches. The sixth and seventh were virtually identical, and Tellez whacked the second one when it didn’t cut enough.Any closer who loses his Mongo persona has lost half the battle. His confidence is clearly visible, especially when it cracks. Since June 15 Jansen has either suffered a loss or blown a save four times. The Dodgers do have alternatives, with Joe Kelly in last-October form, but it won’t necessarily help Jansen’s esteem if he pitches earlier.Related Articles How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies LOS ANGELES — So the townspeople no longer scatter when Kenley Jensen stomps his way in from the bullpen.He is not Mongo anymore. He is not The Lone Ranger either.For every Dodgers fan who swallows his cellphone when Jansen gives up a longball, there’s a Nationals fan who closes his eyes in the eighth inning.Or there’s a Brewers fan who has become a Josh Hader hater. Or there’s an Astros fan who wonders why their deluxe roster keeps putting games into the trembling hands of Roberto Osuna. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season The Dodgers will be 2019 World Series champions if Jansen or Joe Kelly or a reprogrammed Eric Gagne can pitch perfect ninth innings. Nearly every other contender, in both leagues, can say the same thing.When Jansen was taken deep in the ninth inning by Toronto’s Rowdy Tellez on Wednesday, he blew his sixth save of the year. Never mind that Max Muncy won it with a walk-off home run in the 10th. The fact that Jansen has gone from lock to dread has superseded everything.But the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman has blown five saves. Hader, unhittable last season and for half of this one, has blown six. Make it five for Osuna, six for Washington’s Sean Doolittle, five for Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers, five for the Mets’ Edwin Diaz and five for Cleveland’s slumping Brad Hand (four since the All-Star break).Alex Colome of the White Sox has faltered only once, and Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates only twice. It should be noted that their ninth innings are performed to the accompaniment of disappearing taillights.“I don’t know if it’s a trend,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Will Smith (Giants) has been good, Kirby Yates (Padres) has been good. Craig Kimbrel (Cubs) didn’t sign until late. It’s hard to say. The hitters are good these days. If you make a mistake it’s going to get slugged.” Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco last_img read more

SCBL and Chaparral Basketball Tournament brackets released

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first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Mid-season High School basketball tournaments will kick into full gear starting Saturday for the South-Central Border League and the Chaparral Tournament involving Wellington, Belle Plaine and Conway Springs.The brackets for both tournaments were released today. The SCBL Tournament is here. and the Chaparral Tournament is here. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more