Home > Uncategorized > What’s Wrong With Jonathan Broxton?

What’s Wrong With Jonathan Broxton?

Raised as a Yankees fan from birth, I was taught from an early age by my father to hate the Los Angeles Dodgers. My mother, also a Yankees fan, fought against this because she thought kids at school will make fun of me since we reside in Los Angeles. But when you have to use a walker and wear knee-high braces on your legs up until high school, kids find reasons other than your sports allegiances to tease you.

Anyway, I’ve attended many Dodgers games for many years and while it’s always fun to root for the visitors, there are two things that Dodgers fans and I share an excitement for at games in 2010. The first is the pretty awesome entrance video set to Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” It makes me so happy to call this city my home.  The second is when Jonathan Broxton makes an appearance to “Iron Man.” It’s a cool production and gets everyone hyped.

Every closer has an over-the-top entrance these days. I was wondering a few weeks ago when they’ll just turn the bottom of the ninth inning into a WWE spectacle. Throw in a countdown clock and some pyro. You know that would be awesome. And up until recently, Broxton would be one of the few such players who deserves such an entrance. Other than Mariano Rivera, he would be the current fireman I want on the mound to close up shop. But then there is that “until recently” part.

Ever since Broxton had that ninth-inning, 48-pitch blowup against the Yankees on June 27, he just hasn’t been the dominant pitcher we know.

Prior to that game: 32.2 innings, 26 hits, 5 walks (1 intentional), 48 strikeouts, 3 earned runs, 16 for 18 in save opportunities.

Since he entered that Sunday night game: 13.2 innings, 17 hits, 13 walks (3 intentional), 12 strikeouts, 15 earned runs, 5 for 8 in save opportunities.

What’s to blame? According to FanGraphs, he has lost a couple of ticks off his fastball. What was 97 MPH on average last season is now 95 MPH on average this season. He’s also lost a mile per hour on his slider. While I love the mountains of information presented by baseball statisticians, I’m not versed with some of the charts. But I do trust my eyes and if you’ve watched Broxton recently, you can tell that his slider also possess the sharpness of kneaded dough.

It could be the amount of pitches. He’s actually on pace to throw many fewer pitches than he did in his past two seasons, but from the start of 2008 through the day before that Yankees game, Broxton had thrown 28 or more pitches in an outing nine times. Since June 27, he has thrown at least 28 pitches in four outings. That doesn’t even include last night’s colossal meltdown against the Phillies. Broxton had already thrown 22 pitches without an out recorded.

As with all closers, it could be a lack of confidence. During last night’s game — in which I’ll admit Broxton got a little unlucky — Joe Torre came out to the mound and repeated to his closer, “Trust yourself. Trust your stuff.” Obviously there is something to that because Broxton can’t spot anything right now. It looks like he is trying to get back on track by being too perfect with his pitches. He’s not relying on his pure talent.

The Dodgers are now nine games back in the National League West, currently good enough for fourth place. They are six and a half games back in the NL wild card with four teams in front of them. They can point to a number of reasons as to why they didn’t make the playoffs this year: The McCourt divorce tying up the team financially, a bad year from Matt Kemp, Manny being Manny (also known as Manny being lazy), injuries to Furcal, Ethier, Martin and others, a weak bench, a thin pitching staff, whatever, whatever. Broxton not being right is just another reason to add. The bigger worry is whether or not this six-week stretch is a sign of things to come from the 26-year old.

Iron Man? More like mercury. Ha. Get it? Ha. Because mercury isn't as reactive as iron? Ha.

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