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Dodgers must turn to Brusdar Graterol
Wednesday should mark the end of Kenley Jansen's run as closer.
Brusdar Graterol should not be a Dodger right now.
If the Boston Red Sox had completed the original trade for Mookie Betts and David Price, the 22-year old pitcher, who was with the Minnesota Twins last season, would be in Boston along with former Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo.
The Red Sox, however, backed out of the original three-team deal over concerns with Graterol's medical records. The Dodgers ended up completing the trade for Betts and Price by throwing in prospects Jeter Downs and Conor Wong but liked Graterol enough to make a deal for him separately; sending pitcher Kenta Maeda and catcher Jair Camargo to the Twins.
It was a side deal that understandably got overlooked with the Dodgers acquiring one of the best players in baseball but it was a move that could help the team win their first World Series since 1988.
Graterol recorded his first career save last week when the Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers to advance to the NLDS. He took the mound with the Dodgers holding a three-run lead and walked off with the Dodgers claiming a 3-0 victory.
You should feel confident putting your closer on the mound with a three-run lead in the postseason but after Wednesday night no one in Los Angeles feels confident in Kenley Jansen recording a save regardless of the score. Jansen entered Game 2 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres with the Dodgers holding a 6-3 lead. Jansen proceeded to give up two runs before getting pulled and Joe Kelly came in to record the save.
With the Dodgers one win away from the NLCS and nine wins away from a World Series title, it should be the final time Jansen takes the mound as the Dodgers' closer.
Jansen has meant so much to the Dodgers over the past decade as the team has won the division eight consecutive years. Replacing him as the closer has been a difficult decision Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has wrestled with for some time but Jansen essentially made the decision for Roberts on Wednesday. Roberts hinted as much after the game when asked about the team's closer moving forward. "I'm going to keep thinking through it," he said.
The problem for Roberts and the Dodgers is there is no clear-cut pick to replace Jansen. If there was, this wouldn't be a decision made in October. But Graterol appears to be the best bet.
Not only has Graterol tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings so far during this postseason but his four outs in the seventh and eighth innings Wednesday night along with his closeout save last week proves the stage isn't too big for the Venezuelan who effortlessly throws over 100 miles per hour.
When Cody Bellinger made the play of this postseason in the seventh inning Wednesday by robbing Fernando Tatis of a go-ahead home run in centerfield, Graterol celebrated by pointing to the sky and throwing his glove and hat towards the Dodgers’ dugout. The celebration didn't go over well with Manny Machado, who yelled expletives at Graterol. The young reliever responded by simply smiling, waving at Machado and blowing him a kiss.
It was not only the best moment of this postseason and baseball’s most entertaining rivalry but the moment it was clear who should be the Dodgers' closer.
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