Dodgers not short on options to fill Broxton void

Dodgers not short on options to fill Broxton void

Dodgers not short on options to fill Broxton void
LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Broxton gave the Dodgers one stellar season as their closer in 2009 and was a two-time National League All-Star. Now the big man is moving on to Kansas City as a free agent.

The shoes left to fill are large, but it's not as if the bullpen is bare at Dodger Stadium when it comes to protecting ninth-inning leads.

A number of big names with closing resumes are available in free agency, but the in-house options for general manager Ned Colletti suggest that manager Don Mattingly is in good hands with what he has.

Broxton, who made only 14 appearances in an injury-impaired 2011 season, watched Javy Guerra, 26, and Kenley Jansen, 24, perform impressively at the back end of the Dodgers' bullpen.

Guerra, a fourth-round Draft pick in 2004 from Denton, Texas, had a superb rookie season. Inheriting Broxton's role for keeps in early July after making his Major League debut on May 15, the right-hander was 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 47 appearances, converting 21 of 23 save attempts.

Guerra nailed down his first six save opportunities, starting on July 8, and 14 of 15. He finished with a 91-percent success rate, the Dodgers winning 33 of the 47 games in which he appeared.

Guerra had an excellent 1.18 WHIP, walking 18 while striking out 38 in 46 2/3 innings. He was successful in keeping the ball in the park, yielding only two home runs.

A starter in his first four professional seasons, Guerra converted to the bullpen in 2008 at high Class A Inland Empire.

Hailing from Curacao, Andruw Jones' homeland, and signed by the Dodgers as a catcher in 2004, Jansen was a position player for five years before making the conversion to pitching in 2009.

Earlier that year, he'd been the Netherlands' catcher in the World Baseball Classic, making his mark by throwing out Willy Taveras trying to steal third in a stunning 3-2 decision over the Dominican Republic.

Jansen's rise on the mound has been fairly astonishing in every respect.

As the secondary closer in Broxton's absence, Jansen made good on five of six save opportunities. Factor in his nine holds, and his save/hold figure is a superb 93 percent.

In 51 appearances, Jansen was 2-1 with a 2.85 ERA. His secondary numbers were eye-popping for the second season in a row.

In 80 2/3 big league innings, Jansen has racked up 137 strikeouts against 41 walks, manufacturing a 1.03 WHIP.

Few relievers in the game were as effective as Jansen in 2011 in stranding inherited runners. Only one of 21 he assumed came around to score, endearing him to fellow pitchers on Mattingly's staff. It was the best percentage (.05) in the Majors among relievers inheriting at least 20 runners.

As the primary closer, Guerra inherited fewer runners, three of eight scoring.

Both right-handers bring the heat. Guerra averaged 94 mph with a fastball he threw 62 percent of the time, according to the 2012 Bill James Handbook, while Jansen hit the gun at 93.3 while using his heater 87 percent of the time. Both complement their fastballs with sliders.

Broxton, an All-Star in 2009-10, was successful in seven of eight save situations before going down for the season in May. He worked 12 2/3 innings with a 5.68 ERA, walking nine while striking out 10.

Broxton underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery in September. Reportedly pursued by as many as 10 teams, he is expected to set up for Royals closer Joakim Soria if he recovers from the surgery.

Broxton debuted in 2005 for the Dodgers and was 25-20 with 84 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 386 career appearances.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.