The Dodgers can’t let the Braves get into the seventh inning with a lead because that’s when their bullpen takes over. The Braves bullpen ranks first in baseball with a 2.46 ERA, fewest runs allowed with 131, holds with 91 and ranks third with 53 saves.
Their bullpen is led by one of the best closers in the game today, Craig Kimbrel, who converted 50 out of 54 saves and has a 1.21 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Kimbrel has been one of the best closers for the last few years and it’s usually game over when he comes into the game.
The Braves get to Kimbrel by way of second year pitcher Luis Avilan, who leads the team in holds with 27 and a 1.52 ERA in 75 games. Righties David Carpenter and Jordan Walden have also been big additions to the bullpen as Carpenter owns a 1.78 ERA in 56 games pitched and Walden, acquired from the Angels for once promising Tommy Hanson, owns 14 holds.
The Dodgers bullpen isn’t too far behind as they rank 13th in ERA at 3.49, 15th in WHIP, seventh in saves with 46 and sixth in holds with 84. Anchoring that bullpen is closer Kenley Jansen with a 1.88 ERA and he converted 28 out of 32 saves after taking over in mid-June.
The Dodgers started the season with Brandon League as their closer and he saved 14 out 19 but was very inefficient with a 5.30 ERA, but don’t look for him to pitch in any close games.
To get the ball to Jansen, Ronald Belisario and rookie Paco Rodriguez have bridged that gap and have been the main set-up men for most of the season. Belisario has 21 holds this season with a 3.97 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, while Rodriguez has been very impressive with 20 holds and a 2.32 ERA on the season.
The Dodgers brought in reinforcements mid season when they traded for Carlos Marmol, who has some control issues and signed ex-Giants closer Brian Wilson. As he’s gotten healthier, Wilson looks to have taken over the set-up man role as he has a 0.66 ERA in 18 games pitched with 13 strikeouts and three holds.
The Braves may hold the advantage at the back of the ‘pen, but the Dodgers can hold their own. This series will be centered around the pitching staff’s it’ll come down to which bullpen performs the best in pressure situations.
In case you missed it, here’s the latest on Andre Ethier’s injured ankle.