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Dodgers: Bullpen Roles Undefined According to Blake Treinen

The veteran reliever admitted that the bullpen arms currently don’t quite know when they’ll be called upon.



The Dodgers bullpen has come under fire after their epic meltdown against the Padres on Sunday. Starter Dustin May handed over a 7-1 lead in the seventh after striking out ten. The Dodgers relievers proceeded to give up the lead and the game as the Padres won 8-7 in extras.

Besides closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers and manager Dave Roberts appear to lack defined roles for their relievers. On any given night, it’s a mystery who’s going to come in.

Blake Treinen seemed to confirm how many fans feel about the team’s bullpen usage during an interview on AM570’s Dodger Talk with David Vassegh on Saturday.

Role wise, I think all of us are ready for the unexpected.

Treinen then backpedaled from his initial response about the bullpen.

However, his first comment foreshadowed a frenetic deployment of relievers the following day that resulted in a catastrophe.

We have conversations. They kinda let us know when and where to be expecting our name to be called.

Perhaps it’s an over-aggregation, but the kinda in his second statement paints the picture of bullpen arms seeking clarity on their roles.

The Dodgers insert their three highest usage bullpen arms, not counting Jansen, in a variety of scenarios. David Price has recorded at least one full inning pitched in innings 6-9. Jimmy Nelson has been used in everything from the sixth inning to extras.

Ironically, Treinen is the only one of three who might know what to expect. 96% of his appearances have been in the seventh and eighth innings.

The inability to prepare for deployment has hurt the bullpen. Los Angeles ranks 14th in bullpen ERA in the league currently.

More troubling, is that they rank 27th in reliever strikeouts. It’s the golden era of strikeouts. Bullpens that allow opposing hitters to put the ball in play will not be effective in the long run.

Perhaps knowing when they’ll be called upon would improve the bullpen’s overall performance.

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Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.

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  1. None of this is particularly new. The Dodgers had many similar issues from 2016-2019. Yes, overall season numbers may have been better for the pen some years but on a day-to-day basis you never knew what you were getting. And for a team that won so many games, it was stunning how many blown saves they had every year. The FA’s vaunted ability to pick diamonds off the scrap heap has generally not been as successful with the bullpen over the past decade, with very rare exceptions. Plus without the DH, I think you are seeing a little too much thinking going on. Still, it’s only April. And the Dodgers are WS champions. We need to take a chill pill.

  2. What difference does it make. Everyone in the bullpen sucks right now. Dodgers like to say they have lots of options, but it doesn’t matter if none of them are any good.

  3. Not a relief pitcher but I would think the main consideration is how often they are used not which inning and how. Isn’t the goal the same no matter what inning they are called upon? Roberts generally does a good job of trying to stay away from using his relievers too often…because he has to.
    What I’ve noticed is a considerable decline in the quality of pieces written about the Dodgers this season. Seems like we are often being offered stuff just to stimulate comments; that’s ok but the authors shouldn’t have us wander into the kind of things that aren’t really all that debatable.
    More worthy issues: should we be considering trading for a reliever to replace Kneble, a right handed bat off the bench, and/or how should we deal with our obvious and recurrent RISP problem? Decisions much easier to analyze when everyone is healthy. :-))

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