It was reported a few days ago by Andy McCullough that after another bad outing by Chris Hatcher, Dave Roberts called the reliever into his office for a closed door meeting. The only other person at the meeting was pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

When asked after the meeting what was talked about, Roberts told reporters that he wanted Hatcher to “reset and take a deep breath.”

At this point though, it is probably going to take a lot more than a deep breath to fix whatever problems Chris Hatcher is dealing with.

The History

When Hatcher first came to the Dodgers in the trade that sent Dee Gordon to Miami, many people, including myself, hoped that he would be the answer to the bullpen problem. I mean, if a guy throws 98-100 mph consistently then how bad can he be right? And with the state of the bullpen the last few years, it seemed like he had to be an upgrade. However, things haven’t exactly gone as planned for the hard throwing right-hander.

ICYMI: Clayton Kershaw Running Wild on the Bases

In his first season with the Dodgers last year, Hatcher finished with a 3.69 ERA. Overall, it wasn’t all that bad. Hatcher pitched a total of 39 innings last season giving up 16 earned runs. It definitely wasn’t great, but it was manageable. However, the 2016 season is going much, much worse for Hatcher who currently sits with a 6.00 ERA in 18 innings pitched. He has already matched his 2015 total in both home runs and walks allowed and has given up 12 earned runs.

The Problem

“I think he’s trying to be too perfect,” Roberts went on to say about Hatcher after the meeting, “He’s got great stuff and great velocity. And when you try to be too perfect and try too hard, it sometimes goes the other way. That’s why, for me, it was time to intervene and have a conversation.”

Recently on the Petros and Money Show, Roberts also had these things to say about the struggling reliever:

“Hatcher had a great second half and pitched well in the postseason last year for the Dodgers, so he earned that right [to be the 8th inning guy]. I think we as an organization still believe in him.“

“Hatch is a guy we have to keep riding out there, and put him in a position where he can have success.”

Quotes like these make it sound as if Roberts and the Dodgers still have faith in Hatcher. It sounds as if they have every intention of keeping him on the major league roster and feel that he will turn things around. Fans on the other hand, well, their patience is running thin.

If fans did get what they wanted though, and Hatcher was sent down to the minors or released, it would put the Dodgers in a tough spot. They certainly would not just send him down and reduce the total number of bullpen pitchers. At this point, the bullpen needs as many arms as they can get.

Possible Solutions

So, the question becomes, who would the Dodgers call up to replace Hatcher? There doesn’t appear to be any obvious choices, but there are a few options in the Dodgers minor league system that could potentially work out.

Dodgers fans saw a couple of the options this week with Mike Bolsinger and Chin-hui Tsao getting the call to the majors. Bolsinger has traditionally been a starting pitcher when he is with the Dodgers but he could certainly handle being in the bullpen and could take over the long relief role. Tsao, on the other hand, had a rough few days with the Dodgers and was placed on the disabled list before yesterday’s game.

Like Bolsinger, there are other starting pitchers who would be solid additions to the Dodgers bullpen. Zach Lee, for example, has never really gotten his shot in the big leagues with the exception of a single spot start last year. It appears as though the Dodgers aren’t ready to give him a real chance at a starting role, so why not give him a chance in a bullpen that so desperately needs an upgrade. Another intriguing option that Roberts has even hinted at is 19-year-old phenom Julio Urias (but that topic is for another day).

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 11.09.09 PM

If you aren’t a big fan of turning starting pitchers into relievers, there are a few relievers that could also potentially improve the Dodgers bullpen. Flame thrower Frankie Montas, the player many considered to be the main attraction for the Dodgers in the three-way trade involving Todd Frazier, is recovering from a rib resection and could be ready as soon as early June.

The Dodgers could also look to 27-year-old Matt West who is currently pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City. West has a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched this season and has logged 7 innings in the majors in the past, including 3 with the Dodgers last season where he gave up 0 runs and struck out 2.

I am sure that most of the fans are eager to bring up any of these players to fill in for Hatcher. I can’t say I blame anyone for that type of thinking. He clearly has not gotten the job done this season when he has been called upon.

The downside is that most of these options have very little major league experience and they may not be ready for the pressure that comes along with it. In the end though, it really can’t get much worse than it already is and bringing in a fresh new mindset and attitude to the bullpen might be just what they need to turn things around.

NEXT: Kershaw Continues to Solidify Place in MLB History Books

17 Responses

  1. BCRobitaille

    Don’t forget Carlos Frias… another option that the Dodgers should consider for the BP.

    Reply
  2. JonathanWillcox

    Perhaps we should actually make a decision and try some of these guys who peak out in the minors…..

    Reply
  3. Bleed Blue Forever

    It’s time for him to move on, and please take a few bullpen cronies with him.

    Reply
  4. Michael Norris

    BCRobitaille  Frias has been on the DL at AAA and just recently was activated. His ERA is over 9 at this point, so I do not think he is an option…

    Reply
  5. BCRobitaille

    Sure he is. He just got back from a lengthy injury, so he needs time. But his stuff is there. No room for him really in the rotation right now, but i honestly think the Dodgers prefer him out of the pen anyway.

    Reply
  6. Robert Hamilton

    One thing is for sure, the young pitchers can’t be any worst than the old ones. What do we have to lose? There are only two untouchables, and they are Jansen and Kershaw. I think that Hatcher lost confidence early on, when giving up those clutch HR’s. Pitching is as much mental as physical. Giving up HR’S in late innings will make any pitcher start thinking too much. Eventually they ( the orrganzation ) will have to be bold, and make moves.

    Reply
  7. Tmaxster

    So far I like Coleman as he has the side arm delivery so hitters are seeing the ball come out completely differently and break in a different way. You need to see him a couple of times and as he should only be in for 1 inning or maybe 4 or 5 outs that should be OK. He has electric stuff and they are not using him enough..
    Liberatore also has been good. Hatcher has had issues lastt year and this year. Yes Robert Hamilton is in my opinion correct in that it is a mental game and Hatcher does not have it right now. 
    Using Blanton again and again is asking for trouble. Get a young guy in there with stuff that can miss bats.

    Few of our rotation guys can miss bats they are contact guys and when there are guys on base and we need to stop the opposition they cannot get out cleanly. 

    Hatcher has great stuff but put him in the Minors and work on his head….He may eventually be great. It takes a certain mind set…

    Howell has been erratic as has Avilan. Baez tends to try to throw too hard and his ball flattens out. Major League hitters can hit 100 mph pitches if they do not have good life. He needs to learn to pitch not throw…

    I am a huge Frias fan as he has electric stuff we may see him when he recovers….

    I am impatiently waiting for Montas. If Montas is a solid major league player I will finally be able to say this very over rated Front office may have gotten the better of someone in a trade. Thompson is showing to be an every day Out fielder with speed, defense and power a very solid pick up and if Montas works out it will be a great trade and we still get to see if Micah Johnson makes it.

    Reply
  8. BCRobitaille

    Tmaxster Great post Tmaxster. Spot on with pretty much everything. Libertore is pitching well, and I’ve always thought he was our best lefty, even after his struggles last year.

    If Hatcher stays on the team, I believe he needs less pressure situations. He’s not a legit setup guy right now. Blanton is what he is… and he’s ok. Not great, but serviceable. I never really trust Howell.

    As you said, Baez has the stuff to be good, but his fastball comes in straight as an arrow, and hitters jump on it. I keep hoping he will get better with changing speeds and stuff.

    I really think Frias could be a good addition, and I’m hoping Yimi Garcia gets healthy soon. He’s going to only get better as he develops.

    And yeah, Montas is the big one IMO. Not sure if they’ll give him a shot as a starting pitcher down the road, but he could have an immediate impact in the bullpen. I was a big fan of Peraza, but I have to admit, that trade is looking real good for us right now.

    Reply
  9. Tmaxster

    BCRobitaille Tmaxster Thanks Brian. Always enjoy your Editorials. As far as this year. My Daughter is in the Sports Medical Field she warned me in the Spring that Turner’s surgery was serious and has tricky and unpredictable recovery. Also strength and muscle tone need to recover and everyone is different. I am not concerned about Turner it is simply taking him time to recover. My daughter was very surprised they did not slowly bring him back. i think she has been proven right.
    I think the team has a great future and the Thompson pick up gives us an amazing young outfield going forward. 

    I would like to see them bring up some young arms in the “Stripling #5 slot to let our young guns get some Major League experience and then go back to the Farm with a list of things to work on. Like Stripling is doing. 

    I am not a Bolsinger fan. he cannot miss bats so he has a lot of balls in play. Plus he has been a 5 or 6 inning pitcher which is a bullpen killer…

    Reply
  10. JamesKing4

    Zack lee can not pitch in the majors, and like most of the dodger reliever it’s just heat, nothing else. To be a good reliever you need for the ball to look like it may be a strike. Lee’s stuff doesn’t qualify for that. Remember a starting pitcher and a reliever are different. It take a different mentallity. The up and down, get ready now is different to a relief pitcher. Bolsinger, can he be converted. He doen’t have the speed, but his pitcher are deceptive and look like strikes. That is why he can go 5 innings. The dodger reliever all need another pitch besides the fastball.

    Reply
  11. BCRobitaille

    Tmaxster BCRobitaille Thanks, but I can’t take credit for this article, lol. This one was from Chris, who also writes some great stuff. But keep an eye out tomorrow for my quarterly report car piece!
    Regarding the #5 spot, I think they want Bolsinger to hold down the fort until Ryu comes back. I think they want Stripling to limit his innings and we may have seen the last of him in the rotation for this year, barring injuries.
    As far as starters go, I think only Zach Lee and possibly Frias would be options for the #5 spot. They need to decide what they want to do with Lee already. Personally, I think all of them are about the same talent level (Lee, Stripling, Bolsinger.) Frias has more upside, but either way, assuming Ryu (and maybe McCarthy later) comes back, I don’t see any of them in the rotation long-term.
    Hopefully next year, Urias and DeLeon are ready.

    Reply
  12. BCRobitaille

    JamesKing4  Lee hasn’t really had a shot yet in the majors though. But yeah, I’m skeptical. I don’t think he’d be anymore than a back end of the rotation type guy. Better than Stripling or Bolsinger? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    Reply
  13. JamesKing4

    I’ve watched all the dodger games the last 2 years and did see lee pitch. The player show signs of starting to hit, but they do not have a bobber. Too many players at all the positions. They needed to get a quality bat at the start of the season. They need a tough guy on that team that takes charge. Utley may be that guy, but he’s only been there a little over a year. A shuffle of players would have been the ticket in the off-season.

    Now I look at the roster and see more cluster once the insured people come back. Don’t see a solution. More foot dragging.

    Reply
  14. Michael Norris

    Tmaxster  For once I disagree Tom. Hatcher is the FO’s fair haired boy, and they are going to ride that pony as far as they can. Howell is in the last year of his contract, so they might try to move him come July. Avilan is mediocre at best, but you need to lefty’s in the pen. Coleman has been serviceable, and Blanton has done a decent job despite giving up a couple of key homers, After tonight’s game, Baez has had 3 good outings in a row. Liberatore has been the best lefty out of the pen. Now, down to basics. The big problem is getting innings out of anyone but Kershaw. As good as Kazmir was tonight, he still only went 6. Wood has been a 6 inning pitcher, as has Maeda, and Stripling. Bolsinger, even though he got the win went 5. That is way too much strain on the bullpen. Now, Ryu is due back on the 9th of June. McCarthy was 5 days behind him until he had his setback. No one has a clue when Garcia is coming back. Your options at starter boil down to giving Lee a chance, promoting Urias, and worry about over working a kid who has never been over 100 innings, waiting for McCarthy and Anderson. Frias is just off the DL and it is going to take a while for him to build up arm strength. Urias is not on the 40 man and a roster spot would need to be opened. Frias also has a ERA north of 7 at OKC, Cotton and Deleon are not much better at this point. Montas also is going to need serious time to build arm strength as he missed almost all of spring. The options are limited and not all that good. Best way to fix the rotation is a trade. Send some 2nd tier prospects for a solid starter. And then they have to worry about fixing that apathetic offense. Which unless they find someone who can protect A-Gone, is never going to be all that productive. The truly miss Ethier and SVS. They are getting bupkis out of their catchers, and the bench is also unproductive, Kike, CC are both below .200, and they need that extra bench guy now. There is no quick fix for a team that is so far from being championship caliber. Anyone who thinks this is a division winning team with the present personnel is dreaming.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.