Prior to the 9th inning of Thursday’s series finale against the Marlins in Miami, Dodger manager Don Mattingly didn’t know exactly how or when he was going to fit recently acquired reliever Brian Wilson into a game. After all, his bullpen is… well… really good and he doesn’t want to mess with it. So when the Dodgers took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th in yet another outstanding shutout performance by likely 2013 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, Mattingly decided that this was the time and the place.
Though a six-run lead is anything but a pressure situation, the yet-to-be-tested Wilson would have to face the 3, 4 and 5 hitters in Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs. Wilson promptly struck out Stanton, got Morrison to ground out to second, gave up a two out double to Dobbs and struck out Justin Ruggiano to end the game – all on just 19 pitches.
“It was good to see him throw,” said Mattingly. “We saw him in a (simulated) game in Philly and obviously there’s basically zero energy when you’re facing your own team and everybody is in gym shorts, and we didn’t get a very good picture. (Thursday) was a pretty good picture. The ball came out good and he got the ball on both sides of the plate facing the four and five (hitters) in their order and he was pretty good.”
Mattingly went on to say that having Wilson as another piece in an already effective bullpen will definite help in the stretch run as he will be able to give guys some much needed rest.
“It’s tough when your bullpen has been going good and guys have been doing the job to just stick somebody in there without seeing them at all, but after seeing (Wilson on Thursday), I feel like we’ve got another weapon out there now and that gives us another guy to hopefully be able to spread out the workload and keep everybody rested.”
Coming off of his second Tommy John surgery it is highly unlikely that Wilson will ever be the 100 MPH power pitcher that he was when he first came up to the major leagues in 2006. Knowing this, Wilson says that he has been working on his slider and even more so on a cutter, which he threw on Thursday (and in his rehab assignments) with excellent results.
“The cutter is something that I’m trying to master on both sides of the plate,” said Wilson during a special media conference prior to Friday night’s game. “I’ve had six or seven months of bullpen work just throwing to a spot day in and day out until I feel like repetition is kind of speaking for me right now. That’s why I might have (the slider and cutter) under control.”
As good as Wilson was in his Dodger debut and even if he continues to pitch well in the final weeks of the season, Mattingly has made it very clear that Kenley Jansen is and will remain his closer.
“Kenley’s our guy,” insisted Mattingly. “We’ll use Belisario, Paco or whoever to get the ball to Kenley depending on the match-ups, but Kenley’s our guy.”
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Brian Wilson Notes:
- During his media conference on Friday afternoon, Wilson was asked why he chose uniform number 00. “Why not? Nobody else had it so I wouldn’t be stealing it from anybody.”
- Wilson initially denied any knowledge of a razor company offering him one million dollars to shave off his beard. He later said that he had heard rumors about it but said that the rumors were not true. “It’s probably not an offer. It’s probably bogus. I’m not going to sell my facial hair. I’m not concerned with shaving it or growing or anything. It’s just attached to my face. It does what it wants.” (Did I mention that Brian Wilson is a bit aloof?)
- Wilson said “I’m used to getting booed here (at Dodger Stadium). I used to love it. Maybe now that I’m double zero, I’ll get oohed.”
- Wilson would not mention the San Francisco Giants by name, instead referring to them as “”the other organization up north.”