Despite the front office’s effort to help avoid a repeat of 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has endured several ups-and-downs. They relievers collectively yielded a 2.25 ERA in April and 2.82 ERA the month after.
However, their ERA increased in the months that followed, including a 6.27 mark in July. Despite some of the rough patches, there have been stretches where the Dodgers bullpen has impressed. Among those who has shined recently is Chris Hatcher.
The hard-throwing right-hander bounced back from a rough first half and according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, has been comfortable without having a set role out of the bullpen this season:
None of us have really had a role all year, except Kenley,” Hatcher said. “The whole role thing is overblown, I think. As a bullpen guy, you’ve just got to be ready.”
While Hatcher is pitching well enough to be considered closer Kenley Jansen’s setup man, the designation isn’t important to him:
I enjoy every time I’m out on the mound,” Hatcher said. “Do we all want to pitch late in the game? Yeah. But is it a key? No. you just go out there when they call your name and try to get outs.”
Since returning from an oblique injury, the 30 year old owns a .189 batting average against and 1.74 ERA. Overall on the season he has a 4.55 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.
Other relievers, including Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson, and J.P. Howell have also expressed their satisfaction with not having a specific role. The bullpen was perhaps the weakest link for the Dodgers lats October, so an improvement down the stretch could be a key to the team’s success in the postseason this time around.