Boy, do they flat out stink lately.
And that's being nice.
The latest example of a reliever melting down is Adam Liberatore. Actually, it's Yimi Garcia. No wait, it's J.P. Howell. On second thought, it's Chris Hatcher.
What do they all have in common? They all had a hand in blowing a 6-4, ninth inning lead to the Rockies on Wednesday, which soon lead to a painful 7-6 defeat in Colorado.
Painful, embarrassing... call it what you want. I'll call it pathetic, too.
One night after a thrilling comeback victory, highlighted by Alex Guerrero's go-ahead grand slam in the ninth, the Dodgers took one step back thanks to their shaky 'pen. Liberatore was perfect in the eighth, so with Kenley Jansen mysteriously unavailable, he started the ninth. A single and a ground rule double later, he was out of there.
Garcia wasn't any better, issuing two straight walks, one of which brought in a run to make it 6-5. Out he went, and in came Howell, who threw a low pitch that wasn't handled well by Yasmani Grandal for the passed ball, tying the game.
After an intentional walk to load the bases again, Hatcher gave up the walk-off sacrifice fly to Nolan Arenado, and that was that.
Simply put, the Dodgers just don't have a whole lot of options to rely on late in the game, save for Jansen of course. Liberatore has given up runs in two straight games. Garcia has fallen apart, allowing multiple baserunners in three straight appearances. If Hatcher even records an out it's considered an accomplishment.
Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez, and Joel Peralta are all hurt. About the only worthwhile guys are Howell and Juan Nicasio. Josh Ravin has looked really good in both of his appearances, but it's still way too early to tell if he's an answer.
It's hard to know where the Dodgers go from here. They've signed veterans with good track records to big contracts, and it's blown up in their faces (Matt Guerrier, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Brandon League). Now they're trying youth and power, and it's starting to come apart.
Right now, the Dodgers have the fourth best bullpen ERA in the National League at 3.09, but don't be fooled. That's mostly from the start of the season when they didn't even need Jansen to look untouchable. Now Jansen is back, looking fantastic, and they either can't get the ball to him, or he's suddenly unavailable for unknown reasons.
The Dodgers won the NL West last year with a struggling 'pen, and they were exposed by the Cardinals in the NLDS. This year, they shouldn't even count on getting that far, as you know the Giants won't be going anywhere, and if the Padres start playing up to their potential, they'll be there as well.
So like the title says, we can only hope Jansen's disappearing act was only for a night or two, and nothing more. But Jansen or not, the rest of the bullpen has got to step up and deliver. All of those innings in middle relief has got to be pitched by someone. And hopefully pitched well.