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Dodgers’ Bullpen Barely Cracks The Top 10 in MLB



Dodgers fans are not used to seeing their team on the low side of any preseason rankings in baseball. But, if there is one shortcoming on the team, it’s the lack of recent domination for the guys that make up that relief team.

MLB named the top ten bullpens in baseball this week, and the Dodgers came in at number ten. For any other team in baseball, that would be a good thing. But fans in Los Angeles find it hard to settle for that low of a position, though it might be warranted. Here is how MLB’s Anthony Castrovince summed up the team’s ranking in regards to the two anchors of the bullpen.

Jansen set an especially high bar for himself in 2016-17 and wasn’t able to reach that level in 2018-19. Nevertheless, he’s saved at least 30 games in six consecutive years. Jansen and Kelly paid a visit to the Driveline Baseball performance training facility this offseason to try to improve the action on their offerings. And while Kelly has had wide variations in results in recent years, his stuff is still eye-catching.

The success of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2020 relies very heavily on how Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly bounce back. Both of those guys had arguably the worst years of their career in 2019. Jansen continued the theme of missing his spots and struggling trying to overthrow his cutter without any cut to it. Joe Kelly just flat out could not find his location or his velocity. 

The good news though it that trips to Driveline Baseball Academy for these guys has them looking like they’re back to top physical shape. If those two are back near their peak, the Dodgers don’t need much more help to be one of the best bullpens in the game.

The Dodgers are also taking calculated risks on a few other bouncebacks in the bullpen as well. The signing of former All-Star Blake Treinen is looking like it could be a high reward for Andrew Freidman, and the young guys are coming up quickly. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolina both have electric arms that will likely find their way into the bullpen this year. 

Treinen is as intriguing a bounce-back candidate as any reliever in baseball, given the elite level he reached in 2018 (0.78 ERA in 80 1/3) before a return to earth in 2019 (4.91 ERA in 58 2/3 innings). He’s recovered from a stress reaction in his back.

I will say that of the list of top bullpens, the Dodgers’ is by far the most underrated. Expect a big year from the Dodgers’ relievers. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. I kept saying there’s a lot of nobodies in there and veterans with big question marks. Everyone’s gushing over the offense..well it better be on point

  2. It’s hard to imagine Jansen of 2020 being the Jansen of 2016-17 again and Kelley has always been wildly inconsistent. It will be interesting to see how Treinen He could be the closer by the end of the 60 games.

  3. Well, there’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ in that bullpen…They should be good enough…But who would’ve thouht San Diego’s pen could come into play that big with a now shortened season? 60 games has them in the race…

  4. You would have to be a serious “homer” to be offended the Dodgers BP is not among the very. very, very best. It has been the one part of the team that has generally lagged the last several years. Even when Jansen was near the top of the game, there were always questions on the bridge from the starters to him. That said, we have a decent bullpen, just not really top 10 material. Let’s see how it goes. Play ball!!

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