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Dodgers: Building A Playoff Bullpen

Dodgers
September 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) reacts after striking out Colorado Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond (20) to end the top of the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The ever-expanding September bullpen for the Dodgers will need to be reduced for the playoffs. I first spoke of the bullpen in an article in July about building a World Series-winning bullpen. In this article, I’ll take a first look at some playoff bullpen possibilities. Last year the Dodgers had 13 position players on their roster for the World Series so that left room for 12 pitchers. Assuming 4 starters that leaves 8 spots for the bullpen.

Below, I’ll list all the pitchers that have a possibility of making the playoff roster including my predictions for who would be starters. I’m trying to predict what management will do but I will have my own choices later. Of course, management will change the roster based on the opponent.

Pitcher Starter Bullpen Notes
Scott Alexander Alexander is a ground ball machine. Biggest weakness is he can start out without his command which leads to walks. He seems to not lock in and when he elevates, the hitters celebrate.
John Axford He is long shot due to injury. He is a veteran who still hits 96 MPH on the gun.
Pedro Baez X In his last 10 appearances he’s thrown 9.5 innings while only giving up 1 run. In that time he’s given up 6 hits, 2 walks and struck out 11.
Walker Buehler X Unless management decides to limit his innings he’s a starter.
Tony Cingrani If Cingrani proves healthy they’ll find a spot for him.
Caleb Ferguson X As of now, Roberts trusts him a lot so I think he makes it. On only one occasion has he pitched on consecutive days.
Josh Fields Another who is coming back from injury. I think it depends on the opponent. If it is a home run type ballpark then he should not be on the roster as he is a fly ball pitcher. Doc wouldn’t use him in Houston last year.
Dylan Floro X In his last 10 appearances he hasn’t given up a run. In general, he’s a ground ball pitcher. In some of the smaller ballparks, he should be one of the bullpen arms.
Yimi Garcia He’s been inconsistent and I doubt would make it.
Rich Hill X I don’t see the Dodgers leaving him out of the rotation. I’m not sold on him right now.
Kenley Jansen X The biggest key for the Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw X Nothing needs to be said.
Ryan Madson He still hasn’t found his 2017 form. If his next few appearances are lights out then things could change.
Kenta Maeda X A good starter and an excellent reliever. They do need to be careful overworking him in the bullpen.
Zac Rosscup Since mid-August, he’s been awesome. He’s striking out a lot of batters. He could sneak his way onto the roster especially against a team with a lot of left-handed hitters.
Hyun-Jin Ryu X I think he’s the 3rd starter. He has a calmness and gets a lot of soft contact. In some of these ballparks that will be needed.
Ross Stripling X He could start but I guarantee he will be on the roster. In the bullpen, his pitch variety will help. He can also go longer if needed.
Julio Urías It would take a miracle but I’d love to see him make it. I just think he’s almost out of time for 2019.
Pat Venditte He’s been very good since being recalled in late August. The switch-pitcher is an interesting weapon.
Alex Wood X Despite his first bullpen appearance, I see him making the post-season roster. I’m still hoping to see more velocity from him. Too many of his starts get off shaky. That is not good for a reliever.

What I see above is more guys deserve to be on the post-season than there are spots available. Last year, it wasn’t that way and it hurt the team in the World Series, especially games 2 and 3. If the Dodgers win the division they will probably play the Braves. Given that it would be the Braves, here are my choices for the pitching staff.

Starters

  • Kershaw
  • Buehler
  • Ryu
  • Stripling

Bullpen

  • Jansen
  • Maeda
  • Alexander
  • Floro
  • Ferguson
  • Rosscup
  • Baez
  • Cingrani

This is just a first cut. Key missing persons would be Rich Hill (I’m optimistic about Stripling) and Alex Wood. I need to see Wood back up to 93-94 MPH before I think he’s ready for the bullpen. I will do another update early next week and we’ll see what changes. Something to also keep in mind the roster can change from series to series. No doubt there will be changes based on the opponent.

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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

3 Comments

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  1. It’s not about best player plays with Roberts. Darvish was a mistake last year so this year’s mistake will be Hill and Stripling who can’t get through the lineup twice these days without problems. Wood has just been awful along with the ever lucky Hill, the Dodgers score a ton with him pitching. All 3 will be on the roster along with Robert’s pet Baez. That will be a big mistake, 4 weakies… and that scenario probably eliminates Rosscup and Cingrani.

  2. I think starters will be Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu and Hill. Stripling and Wood are in the pen, meaning Cingrani and Rosscup don’t make it.
    Jansen, Maeda, Baez, Floro and Stripling are the Righties with Lefties, Alexander, Ferguson, Wood.

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