Make Or Break Year: Jonathan Broxton

007100922153_Padres_at_Dodgers About eighth months ago, Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers was arguably the most dominant reliever in the game. He started the 2010 season with career numbers that were straight out of a video game: 11.92 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 45.6% grounders, and a .204/.287/.304 batting line against in 317 innings. The Dodgers had every reason to be confident when they had a lead in the ninth inning.

The 2010 season started and Broxton was performing just like he had during his entire career, if not better. Through his first 33 appearances, he struck out 48 and walked just five in 32 2/3 innings, leading to a 0.48 ERA. But then things started to go bad. Broxton blew a four-run lead against the Yankees on June 27th, throwing a career-high 48 pitches in the inning. He was never the same the rest of the season.

Broxton pitched to a 7.58 ERA the rest of the way, walking nearly as many batters (23) and he struck out (25) in 29 2/3 innings. Batters tagged him to the tune of .325/.437/.479, and he blew five of 11 save opportunities. By the end of the season, Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen were getting ninth inning work while Broxton handled middle relief.

Whether it's a coincidence or the sign of something bigger, that game against the Yankees marks a turning point for Broxton. His trademark velocity had been down that month (relatively speaking), so maybe the crack in the dam finally gave way that game. Now that he's closing in on free agency, Broxton needs to show his old form if he wants to land a major pay day after the 2011 season.

Luckily for him, he's still extremely young, not celebrating his 27th birthday until June. New manager Don Mattingly has indicated that Broxton will be his closer to at least start the season, so he's going to have an opportunity to put the struggles behind him and re-establish himself as one of the game's best bullpeners.

60 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Jonathan Broxton Leave a Reply

  1. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

    I’m expecting a bounce-back from Big Jonny

  2. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

    Seriously, how in the hell did Joe Torre leave him in to throw 48-FORTY EIGHT pitches people-in an inning? How do you leave him in to blow a 4 run lead and throw FORTY EIGHT pitches in an inning? What did that do to him both mentally and physically? Should anyone be surprised that his season unraveled at that point?

    I think Broxton can, and will, bounce back. The question is will it be with the Dodgers or will it take a move to another organization?

    • Leyland left Valverde in for 60 pitches in one game against the Red Sox this year. Five walks in 1.1 IP.

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

        Yikes! I don’t know what to say about that one. Doesn’t seem too wise to leave a high priced still under contract pretty good reliever out there to potentially damage his arm.

      • chreeschan 4 years ago

        That’s about when Valverde’s season took a turn for the worse as well.

    • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

      That game made me so angry it’s unbelievable. Torre just kept making bad decisions…

    • Joe probably had his sunglasses on and was sleeping.

  3. JB will be just fine, hopefully he has plenty of save opportunities to get his confidence up (that means the Dodgers need to lead the game going into the 9th, not an easy feat with the current line-up.)

  4. Bob George 4 years ago

    Off topic, but this post got me looking at other relievers and how dominant they are/aren’t.

    One stat that stood out, opposing batters have a career average of .174 vs. Carlos Marmol.

    Career numbers of guys who are considered top closers:

    Papelbon .203, Broxton .219, Mariano Rivera .210.

    • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

      You can’t hit Marmol. No one can. You can on some days just stand there and take a walk though. As good as he is and as high as his K rate is, he still has some days when he simply can’t find the strike zone at all.

      Marmol has wicked filthy stuff, even if he doesn’t always know where it’s going.

      • bigpat 4 years ago

        I don’t understand why anyone would swing when Marmol is pitching. He throws a slider 50 feet off the plate as his go to pitch. If I were a coach, I would never let my batter swing against him but he just keeps getting guys to chase that filthy slider.

    • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      I think most of us who look objectively at the stats have clearly seen Marmol as a top reliever/closer simply on the basis of his last year strikeout ratio. However the career 5.9 BB/9 is worth raising an eyebrow. As the old saying goes, a walk is as good as a hit.

    • thegrayrace 4 years ago

      Kuo had a .139 BAA last season. Ridiculous.

      • Kuo gave up only 6 hits to lefties, for an .095 BAA. He gave up those hits to Raul Ibanez, on 8/11, for the first hit against him all year. The only XBH against him was a ground rule 2b, by Chase Utley. The other 4 lefties to get a hit off of him? Brian McCann, Joey Votto, Roger Bernhadina (bunt), and Adrian Gonzalez.

        Beyond ridiculous…

    • bonestock94 4 years ago

      Mariano is cut above any of those guys, including Marmol. When they do it for 15 years straight we can talk.

  5. bleedDODGERblue 4 years ago

    God forbid someone have a bad half year… Broxton’s still a beast.

  6. first lets acknowledge the fact he threw in more three and 4 game stretches last year than ever in his career. second wth was he even pitching in that yankees game. Third there is a reason Torre gets slack for screwing over his bullpen.Lastly he was never able to get his groove he couldnt get a save opportunity and then when he did he was overworked. We have seen what happens when he gets overworked. thank goodness torre is gone

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      torre has a history of overworking his bullpen. im surprised mariano made it to 41 with how he got used by joe.

      • vtadave 4 years ago

        That’s because Rivera is an alien. Also, to say Torre overused him may not be the case. He was right around 75 IP every year and rarely recorded more than three outs in a game until the playoffs.

        • phoenix2042 4 years ago

          yea maybe so. but it just felt like he was always in the game. whenever they were in a tough spot, i felt like he brought out mo, whether it was 3 days in a row or five outs to go. obviously you remember the exception instead of the rule, but i feel like joe would always say how much faith he had in mo, etc, etc so in my head mo was in 162 games a year lol

          • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

            Actually, everyone else but Mo got overused by Torre with the Yanks.

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      also, torre misused george sherrill up the wazoo! the LOOGY faced more righties than lefties!

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

        I pick George Sherrill for a bounce back candidate too. I never liked the way Torre used (overused) his bullpen.

        • phoenix2042 4 years ago

          where is sherrill now?

        • Sherrill actualy had a great year, against lefties. .192 BAA, .286 OBP, .288 slg. If he is used as a Loogy, he can be very valuable.

  7. carlos 4 years ago

    his funk was either fat related or injury related. he’ll bounce back. same thing happened to chad billingsley. an offseason to rest is probably the best remedy

    • phoenix2042 4 years ago

      fat guys can pitch. look at CC Sabathia. lets them use their weight instead of just their arm to throw hard. just dont ask him to field a ball. can’t bend over with that belly in the way…

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

        Billingsley and Broxton are both enormous from the waist down. As long as they avoid knee injuries, it’s a tremendous advantage for a pitcher to have big strong legs and butt.

  8. maddog12 4 years ago

    Again Matt F**king Stairs

    he hasn’t been right since

  9. sherrilltradedooverexperience 4 years ago

    broxton Kuo Jansen and maybe bellasario if he’d put down the bottle and work off his pot belly should be above average. Cory Wade was unfortunately a fatal casualty of Torre’s misuse. Troncoso kind of broke down but I think he’ll bounce back. Pretty sure Torre got into McDonald’s head a bit too.

    I think the pen will be o.k. as long as mattingly let’s honeycutt do his thing for the most part. hopefully there’s no conflict there

    • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

      I think McDonald was actually pretty good out of the pen, I think his problems came when he started for us.

    • Wasn’t McDonald traded to the pirates

      • BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

        Yes, for Octavio Dotel. I think I hear another rant coming on.

      • sherrilltradedooverexperience 4 years ago

        yes. i don’t think he’d have had as many issues or gotten traded had another mgr been at the helm. that’s y i’m kind of counting him a casualty of the torre era.

  10. mrfysla1 4 years ago

    Avoid overusing either one and use Broxton and Kuo as the situation dictates…

  11. BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    It’s way too easy to blame managers for failing players — we always know when their decisions were right or wrong, after the fact. Even if you call it overuse, he was never the same after that meltdown in that game against NY, for the rest of the season. When a pitcher doesn’t return to form after a bad game, or two, or even three, you have to wonder whether the problem is in his arm or his head. Unfortunately in Broxton’s case, we just don’t know yet.

  12. dgrfns 4 years ago

    Kuo was more effective than Marmol.

  13. Whole_New_World 4 years ago

    Kenley Jansen is a beast. He should be the Dodger closer. Dodgers have nice opportunity to have three slotted guys, 7th, 8th & 9th inning with Broxton, Kuo & Jansen.

    • BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

      Whoa there, tiger. Jansen has been pitching for how long, a whole year now? He’s got a couple dozen innings in the majors, and you’ve already got him pencilled in as the closer? He’s got potential, for sure — but he’s also clearly a work in progress. Good arms need to be brought along carefully. You don’t just throw them into the deep end and hope they know how to swim.

      • Whole_New_World 4 years ago

        Oh, I know Jansen will not close. Broxton will start the ’11 closing, and if Broxton folds, Kuo will likely take over. And yep, Jansen hasn’t been pitching long. Though catching had to help in the conversion to pitching. However, Jansen can close, and I mean right now. As far as developing pitching prospects carefully, I agree with that, in most cases. UNLESS the talent is overwhelmingly dominant. See Neftali Feliz.

        • BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

          For every Feliz, you’ve got a hundred Billingsleys and Kershaws who require nurturing, and both mental and physical conditioning. Most young pitchers need to be brought along gradually. I think it’s kind of amazing that nobody ever suggested that Jansen try pitching before he was almost washed out of the minors. Anyway, I hope the Dodgers aren’t forced to find out if he’s already got what it takes to close this season.

  14. If Broxton bounces back, the Dodger bullpen looks to be pretty nasty. Looks to be Padilla as the swingman, then Guerrier, Belisario, Jansen, Kuo and Broxton. Add that to a deep starting 5, and this team is going to be in every game.

  15. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    just on the surface it looks like in 2010 marmol got real lucky on extra base hits or HR/FB% or something. his ISO against is .052. that’s crazy low. he also walks too many, but it doesn’t come back to bite him much i bet because he never allows a home run so they don’t score with that low BAA and good K numbers.

  16. NickinIthaca 4 years ago

    That really is the first thing I thought of when I read this… 48 flippin’ pitches? For a closer? No wonder his season went to crap after that.

    Edit – wow, I should have read one post down before posting that

  17. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    first pitch strikes % going up is really encouraging. lots fewer walks and even more Ks coming up. a 4% HR/FB is crazy low, MLB average is like 9% i think, although I’m sure it’s different for a reliever. still 1.6 is not sustainable. being in fewer hitter’s counts because of first pitch strikes might actually help keep the ball in the park because the batter will be more defensive. he makes hitters look silly! i wonder if hitters will be more patient with him, considering that they can’t hit his pitches anyways and he has a tendency to walk a lot. maybe that’s why he is throwing more strikes now, to combat that adjustment.

  18. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    well marmol is younger with possibly more upside and less injury risk, but kuo was more effective. his K/9 was less, but he had half the BB/9. yes his BABIP was about 85 points lower, and that is mostly luck and his LOB% was a bit better (also probably luck), but that’s not the whole difference.

    they both had similar HR/FB% (1.5 to 1.6) so the home run factor is neutral. if you look for regression, kuo’s career HR/FB% is 5.3 while marmol’s is 6.9. add on to that the fact that marmol gets 10% more flyballs than kuo (career-wise, but kuo got 8% more FBs in 2010), and marmol should give up more homers. Kuo’s FB% in 2010 was 12% higher than his normal, which should regress.

    marmol’s K/9 in 2010 was nutty, over 15, but his career K/9 is 11.7. Kuo’s is a slightly lower 10.5. the biggest difference is marmol’s walk rate of 5.89BB/9 compared to kuo’s 3.53BB/9. in 2010 it was even more drastic at 6.03 to 2.70. this led to a difference in FIP of only .2 this year (in kuo’s favor), but a difference of an entire run for their careers (marmol at 3.79 to kuo at 2.75).

    if marmol can control his walks in the future he can be more effective. his first pitch strike% went up by 13% compared to last year, up 9% from career, although his BB/9 rose slightly from his career average, while bettering his atrocious number from last year (7.9BB/9). kuo, for his part, did increase his own first pitch strikes 7% from last year and 4% career, dropping his walks by a healthy .8BB/9.

    kuo seems to be much better in walks and slightly better in home runs than marmol, while marmol has a slight edge in strike outs and a healthy lead in durability. i would say that kuo is more effective now judged by FIP, ERA and his much better control, but marmol has incredible raw stuff and more upside, especially with increased control. i would take kuo right now, but if marmol shows improvement in his control next year, i would take marmol from 2012 onwards.

  19. NomarGarciaparra 4 years ago

    As much as I like Kuo, I’d take Marmol as well. The biggest thing about Kuo is the risk of injury…that’s why he doesn’t often pitch in consecutive games. If it weren’t for his past health problems and like 5 Tommy John Surgeries, I wonder what he could become now. He could become one of the most dominant closers in the game.

  20. East Coast Bias 4 years ago

    Why is BABIP always written off as pure luck? Shouldn’t we give the pitcher some credit for inducing outs after contact?

  21. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    sorry for the crazy long post. i guess i got a bit too much into it!

  22. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 4 years ago

    To the best of my knowledge, Jonathan Broxton hasn’t said one word about Joe Torre or the way he was used last year publicly.

    I blamed Joe Torre in a post; it’s my opinion. Broxton hasn’t said anything about it-he didn’t blame Torre-I did. It’s unfair to say Broxton hasn’t been accountable; he hasn’t been saying anything or blaming anyone. That came from me and some other posters. They are not Jonathan’s words.

  23. BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    Seriously, how often do players blame managers and coaches? Not only should they not do so as a matter of professionalism, it’s the kiss of death for any player to whine, and especially about management. In Broxton’s case, I don’t recall him saying much of anything to anyone about any matter. He’s about as quiet as any player in baseball.

  24. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    well that’s why i didn’t use ERA. because of his BABIP and LOB were so lucky, his ERA will also be lucky. but HRs, BBs, and Ks, as well as FIP are not affected by LOB or BABIP. now kuo’s health risks are huge, keeping the manager from letting him pitch on consecutive days or letting him throw more than 30 pitches. that really ties a manager’s hands. but kuo’s *effectiveness* is not affected by that unless he is actually injured. now the argument about LI is also not, i think, under his control because he is in the game at the manager’s discretion and he shares closer/setup time with broxton. i think marmol profiles better going forward because of his age and durability, as well as his unheardofly awesome raw stuff.

  25. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    i would take marmol going forward, but kuo was actually more effective. the injury risk is a huge downside for kuo though. marmol has more upside, but kuo has been more effective.

  26. East Coast Bias 4 years ago

    Ehh, I don’t know man. Don’t you think it’s better that a player should speak up against the manager so he can have a longer career, rather than going out every day and breaking down? In the end, you gotta protect yourself.

  27. BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

    In the clubhouse, sure. Managers and coaches expect to hear from players about physical and mental issues. But not to the press. Any player who says to the media, “Yeah, I really sucked today. I was tired and told the skip but he put me in there anyway,” is dead meat. And for good reason. Reminds me of what Tommy always told his players: “You play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back.”

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