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Los Angeles Dodgers Finding Some Solutions to Bullpen Problems

Luis Avilan at one time was a starting pitcher while a teen, but when he turned 20 in the Atlanta Braves farm system, he decided to become a reliever.

He became a full time reliever and a few years later, he reached the big leagues. He is not like many other pitchers who push to return to a starting rotation. He lost that urge years ago.

He loves entering with opponents on base and in a tough situation, saying that as a starter it was boring in the early innings without anyone on base.

The Dodgers could do with a few more relievers with that mindset. For close to three months, but more specifically the past week, the Los Angeles bullpen has sapped strength from the team through late inning losses.

However, the past two nights, Avilan has faced Jay Bruce and struck him out – once with a curve and once with a fastball of 94 mph – to preserve two much needed wins.

Los Angeles beat Cincinnati on Wednesday 7-4 and got 2 1/3 strong innings from its bullpen, though five of them were needed for the final seven outs.

The Dodgers, especially Don Mattingly the manger, knows they will put in as many pitchers as needed to get the ball to Kenley Jansen their closer.

The Los Angeles roster might not have a guy who is dominating in the seventh or eighth inning, like some clubs do, but there are enough games left in the season to find one or two pitchers who could help in that regard.

Avilan appears he could be one of them versus left-handers. Juan Nicasio has pitched his way from a long reliever to pitching late in games that are losable.

Mattingly said you want to stay with the guys, knowing they possess the stuff. He said the team has youth, but also some experience and those are the ones that need to get hot and stay that way to give the team some combinations late in games.

However, the combinations are constantly changing and probably will for some time. Who knows, the names could change as well. The call-ups in September will soon arrive starting Tuesday, but Los Angeles will continue to experiment until it finds the right group that can get the toughest outs. Their season could depend on that outcome.

Los Angeles holds a 2 ½-game lead over the San Francisco Giants, but after Cincinnati, they play the red-hot Chicago Cubs before hosting the Giants for three at Chavez Ravine.

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