Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This column features a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: Who Should Pitch the Eighth Inning When the Dodgers are Ahead?
Comment below with your response to the roundtable question!
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer-When Kershaw isn’t pitching and the Dodgers are forced to go into their bullpen, I would throw J.P. Howell and surprising I would also think about Brian Wilson especially if it is in the playoffs. J.P. has been lights out this year with a 1.70 era this year and would be my preferred option but against righties sometimes that leads to a problem. Yes, Brian Wilson has struggled this year but especially in the playoffs, having his experience helps and I would have confidence in him.
Dustin Hanson, Staff Writer- I think I would look at these specific in game situations differently. What if, in the 8th inning, the 2, 3, 4 batters are set to come up? All 3 are right handed and mash lefties. I’d bring in Kenley to get the heart of the order out for the 8th inning to leave a lower leverage situation for JP Howell in the 9th. What if Kenley gets all 3 outs in the 8th using less than 10 pitches. Why not send him out there in the 9th as well? To answer the question, no doubt I’d use Howell. I know Mattingly has used Howell and Wilson in a sort of platoon, which isn’t a terrible idea. Howell is more than capable of getting righties out just as well as lefties. I don’t trust Wilson as much, though he has been plagued by a few very tough and bad outings mixed is with some very long stretches of consistency.
Matt Borelli, Staff Writer-Personally, I don’t think a specific reliever should pitch in a certain inning. In my opinion, it’s all about the match-up. If an elite left-handed batter like Joey Votto is up at the plate, I want J.P. Howell pitching. If someone like Giancarlo Stanton or Andrew McCutchen is batting with the go-ahead run at second base, I want Jansen pitching. I’m not a big fan of the Saves stat; I just want the best possible reliever on the mound in a tough spot.
Carlos Flores, Staff Writer- I believe J.P. Howell should be the primary set up man. The answer might be different a month from now, but now with 3 additional lefties on the roster, the Dodgers can use the additional lefties to be a main LOOGY and focus on using J.P. as their main set up man. J.P has been the Dodgers second best reliever and has done well against both lefties and righties. Lefties are hitting .125/.253/.154 with a .205 wOBA against J.P. meanwhile righties don’t fare much better with a .171/.291/.216 line and a .239 wOBA. J.P. should not be limited to just getting lefties out, and whereas the Dodgers needed a lefty to get one or two important lefties out in the 6th or 7th innings, now they can use one of Paco, Coulombe, or Elbert to get that job done. With Brian Wilson, Brandon League, and every other Dodger reliever not named Kenley struggling, the Dodgers need to realize that J.P. is not a LOOGY and instead is the best candidate to be the set up man.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer– The eighth inning should be split between J.P. Howell and Pedro Baez. Howell has been consistent all year as the lefty specialist in the 8th inning and has been slowing moving over to right handed batter situations as well. Baez has really impressed this season. I can see him become a full time set up man in future.
Scott Andes, Editor– J.P. Howell Should have the eighth inning. There is no question in my mind. He has been the Dodgers best reliever this year, after Kenley. He’s a great pitcher and has had a terrific season.
Adrian Garcia, Senior Staff Writer– Most of my feelings are out there on this. Clearly Paco should have the 8th inning, Howell walks too many guys, Baez doesn’t strike out enough guys, Yimi should have a shot but won’t because he’s a rookie or something. Paco has a little over a full season of elite production, that’s good enough for me
Oscar Martinez, Staff Writer-It’s very close between Howell and Paco, but I’ve gotta give the call to Howell because he’s got the experience, which will come in handy in these high pressure games.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- If Clayton Kershaw isn’t already pitching a complete game shutout, Don Mattingly should use either J.P. Howell or Pedro Baez in the eighth inning when ahead depending on the matchups. Brian Wilson has been terrible this season, and he cannot be trusted in the eighth inning any longer. While Baez is still green, he has a mean fastball. J.P. Howell had a rough outing or two recently, but he has been the best reliever out of the Dodger bullpen this season behind Kenley Jansen. Then again, if I was manager, I would use Kenley Jansen in high leverage situations regardless of inning.
Ryan Somers, Staff Writer-I have pretty much lost faith in all of our right handed relievers, other than Jansen. Therefore, I feel like the 8th inning needs to belong to lefty J.P. Howell. I would not be terribly opposed to seeing Paco Rodriguez in the 8th as well, but I feel like Howell is the safer play, based on experience, and the season he has had to date. I think it needs to be Howell’s inning regardless of who is coming to bat for the opposition. If Donnie insists on righty vs righty, I think we will have to pray that Brian Wilson can return to his form from late 2013!