The 2019 trade deadline came and went for the Dodgers without a major acquisition. After acquiring the best player on the market at the last two deadlines, the Dodgers basically stood pat, acquiring left-hander Adam Kolarek and infielder Jedd Gyorko.
Most fans wanted a major bullpen acquisition of the Felipe Vazquez, Will Smith, or Brad Hand ilk. Even Shane Greene would have been intriguing to some. However, they stood pat —- for a reason.
In a recent column by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Friedman provided some insight regarding the organization’s plans for the bullpen down the stretch and into October.
The Dodgers believe they have the pitchers in place to construct a bullpen good enough to win the World Series despite not acquiring an elite reliever. They’ll spend the next two months evaluating their options and how best to deploy them.https://t.co/XmYT67OPtk
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) August 4, 2019
To start, he discussed the narrative of the Dodgers’ bullpen being too weak as currently constructed and its comparison to the past two World Series champions:
“I think narratives are always an interesting thing, and the narrative going into the 2017 playoffs was that the Astros didn’t have a bullpen strong enough to win the World Series. Going into the 2018 playoffs, the narrative was the Red Sox didn’t have a bullpen strong enough to win a World Series.”
He is correct. The narrative existed for both of those clubs and they emerged victorious regardless of their bullpen flaws. The Dodgers’ current bullpen is better than those two bullpens. The Dodgers have not seen their championship hopes fade due to a relatively inactive trade deadline this season.
The club, simply put, has a lot of options to fill their 12-man pitching staff come October. We could see rookies Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin find their way on the roster. We could see Rich Hill emerge as an invaluable bullpen asset. The options are endless due to the versatility of the Dodgers’ pitching staff.
Friedman alluded to the fact that the club is in the early stages of pinpointing who will be on the October postseason roster:
“The other guys that we are looking at as strong contenders into October I think are in a good place right now. But that’s something that we have two months to continue to evaluate.”
The organization has nothing but time and as I mentioned, no shortage of options. The bullpen picture is not as bleak as you may think it is and the Dodgers could have even more help on the way with left-handers Chris Nunn and Victor Gonzalez showing out at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Friedman directly mentioned Gonzalez as an in-house bullpen option down the stretch. The 23-year-old southpaw from Mexico has allowed just one earned run over 15 2/3 innings since moving to the bullpen full-time.
Friedman also exudes confidence in his club and stated so:
“We’ll try to put guys in the best position to succeed and then wake up before the playoffs, if we’re fortunate enough to qualify, and put together the best, most dynamic staff we can.”
The Dodgers have Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Julio Urías, and Pedro Baez as virtual locks. Only one of Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Rich Hill will claim the final rotation spot as their own, with the remaining pitchers vying for spots in the bullpen with Adam Kolarek most likely clogging a spot as well. Options galore.