You know, I really hate saying I told you so….but……I told you so. Remember back in April when I wrote this article Don-Mattingly’s-Torre-disease-infection-could-have-dire-effects-on-the-Dodger-bullpen/ worrying about Don Mattingly’s reckless and inefficient use of the pitching staff? Remember when I feared that his atrocious bullpen usage would result in many blown arms down the stretch?…..Well here we are now.
I knew it too. I knew we would start to see arms being blown once we reached the last couple of months of the season. Sure enough, arms have been blown. It’s not just one or two, it’s many. Nearly half of the Dodger pitching staff is hurt, and the majority have blown arms from overwork, and inefficient use. Don Mattingly really screwed the pooch so to speak.
My intention isn’t to pick on poor Donnie here. My intention is to correctly recognize his strategies are hurting the team. Now not all of the injuries are Donnie’s fault of course. It’s not Mattingly’s fault that Kenley Jansen has an irregular heartbeat, or that Clayton Kershaw has a bum hip joint. The rest of the injuries are as a result of misuse, and or overwork.
How is it that all of these pitchers just happened to blow out their arms at the same time? It seems a little bit fishy to me. Blake Hawksworth, Scott Elbert, Todd Coffey, Matt Guerrier, and Chad Billingsley all have missed significant time with arm problems. Only Guerrier even made it back to pitch at all. Elbert, Coffey, and Hawksworth all either had surgery or will need surgery during the off-season. Hawksworth blew out his arm last season and never even pitched this year. He may never pitch again. Billingsley may need Tommy John surgery. It really makes you think. Is Mattingly using these guys properly? Chad Billingsley could be the exception since he is a starter.
The problem as I see it is he only uses one pitcher per inning. He rarely if ever let’s any of these guys pitch more than an inning in relief. Of those five pitchers, four are relievers. Instead of using one pitcher for multiple innings, and saving the rest of the bullpen, he brings in one pitcher per frame. Generally he does this on consecutive days. Is it because he thinks that none of them are capable of pitching more than an inning? The problem is by using a pitcher one inning per game on consecutive days can lead to added stress on the arm. Also factor in all of the warm-up pitches they throw. The more efficient way of doing this would be to let them pitch two or three innings during each outing then resting them for a couple of days before using them again. Not only does this strategy put stress on these pitcher’s arms, it’s a waste of resources, and leads to the entire bullpen being burned up during each game. Even the guy that’s supposed to be the long man, (Jamey Wright) is rarely if ever allowed to pitch more than an inning.
Of course I don’t have any data to back this up. This is just a theory of mine, and something I have noticed during Mattingly’s tenure. He did it last season, and he is doing it again this season. It can’t be a coincidence that all of these relievers blew their arms out around the same time. It seems as though Mattingly has caught the Joe Torre disease of burning up the pitching staff. Remember Mattingly studied under Torre. We all remember how the Torre era was littered with blown arms. Can a cure for this annoying disease ever be found? On Sunday during the Dodger’s 5-2 12 inning loss to the Cardinals, Mattingly burned up nearly the entire pitching staff by the ninth inning, and by the time the game was over he had used all ten pitchers. He burned through the entire pitching staff. That was the first time that had happened in Dodgers history. Don Mattingly has to change the way he manages the pitching staff, or I am afraid that this will be just the tip of the iceberg, and more pitchers will continue dropping like flies.