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.
I’m expecting a bounce-back from Big Jonny
Definitely. I would be surprised if he didn’t.
as am I. Fat guys tend to be pretty bouncy.
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.
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.
That’s about when Valverde’s season took a turn for the worse as well.
That game made me so angry it’s unbelievable. Torre just kept making bad decisions…
Joe probably had his sunglasses on and was sleeping.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
East Coast Bias
Wow… that really is ridiculous!
Mariano is cut above any of those guys, including Marmol. When they do it for 15 years straight we can talk.
God forbid someone have a bad half year… Broxton’s still a beast.
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
torre has a history of overworking his bullpen. im surprised mariano made it to 41 with how he got used by joe.
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.
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
Actually, everyone else but Mo got overused by Torre with the Yanks.
also, torre misused george sherrill up the wazoo! the LOOGY faced more righties than lefties!
I pick George Sherrill for a bounce back candidate too. I never liked the way Torre used (overused) his bullpen.
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.
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
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…
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.
Again Matt F**king Stairs
he hasn’t been right since
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
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
Yes, for Octavio Dotel. I think I hear another rant coming on.
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.
Avoid overusing either one and use Broxton and Kuo as the situation dictates…
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.
Kuo was more effective than Marmol.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.