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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Faces Bullpen Questions Once Again

The ‘pen coughs up a Ryu gem in New York.

Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10: Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after earning a save in the ninth inning of the game against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on May 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

As the Dodgers ended up on the losing end of a pitcher’s duel in New York on Saturday night, questions once again surfaced about the up and down LA bullpen. After 7 shutout innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu in his first start in 10 days, the bullpen came on in the 8th inning and was wobbly at best.

3 pitchers combined to record 3 outs, but 3 runs were also surrendered on two hit batters, a walk, and a pinch-hit, base clearing double off the bat of Rajai Davis.

After the game, Dave Roberts didn’t mince words when it came to he bullpen’s effort.

We just didn’t pitch well in the 8th.

Adam Kolarek opened the inning and got his lone batter Robinson Cano on a strikeout. Roberts then turned to Joe Kelly — appearing in his 3rd contest in 4 days — who came in to hit a batter and strike out a batter before giving way to Julio Urias. Urias hit a batter, walked a batter to load the bases, and gave up the game-winning pinch-hit double to saddle Kelly with the loss.


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The concern for Dodgers Nation turned to the fact that the arms appearing in the 8th inning are lined up to be the go-to arms for Los Angeles in October, and I shared this thought on Twitter.

Moreover, the LA bullpen earned its 23rd loss of the season and is tied for 2nd worst in IS% — inherited runners scoring percentage — with 39%. While the bullpen has been much better than it was early in the season (2nd best in MLB since June 1 with a 3.50 ERA), it remains the biggest question mark for the World Series contending Dodgers.

12 games remain in the regular season.

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

16 Comments

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  1. I’m not sold on Urias as a reliever. He’s very prone to giving up key hits. He’s much better off starting when there’s less pressure, whenever there’s high pressure hold/save situation he tends to fold. He almost lost the NLCS last year; if Chris Taylor didn’t make that nearly impossible catch on Yelich’s fly ball, it would have blown the game wide open for the Brewers, Dodgers would have lost the series because of Urias. And the problem for the Dodgers right now is there is no one they can trust to close games. Unless Dave Roberts is willing to move Walker Buehler to closer role, have him close multiple innings – for example, bring in Buehler to pitch 7th, 8th, and 9th in the playoffs if they have the lead. Assign Gonsolin as the 3rd starter. Have Urias, Maeda each pitch 3 innings as the combined 4th starter. Otherwise I don’t see how the Dodgers bullpen can hold off offense against the Braves, Yankees and Astros in late innings.

  2. Urias got screwed in the 8th… There were 2 pitches called balls that were definitely on the black, and would have struck the batter out, ending the inning…. No runs should have scored.

    • No. He didn’t. He couldn’t locate his pitches with any consistency. Don’t blame the ump when he doesn’t get the borderline call.

      • This precisely why we need robot HPU. No made up rules like “you’re too wild so you don’t get this call” or “ your catcher dropped it or had to reach over so a pitch right down the middle is a ball now”

          • I agree Roberts doesn’t know how to use a pitching staff he needs a special adviser in the dugout with him under the guise of a bench coach or something. How does the manager not figure that Kelly has been used a lot lately and so perhaps Urias should begin the inning. Julio is also not a guy that excels at cleaning up other pitchers messes another reason he should only start innings. It’s like Roberts knows nothing about his pitchers

  3. This story can be run just about two or three times a week, and will be, until the FO does something about the weakest element of this club. Urias is one of those “coin toss” relievers the Dodgers gamble on with a 50/50 chance of losing the game. Then again, with the rest of what are euphemistically called “relief pitchers” in the pen, Urias is not unexceptionally bad, for the Dodgers.

  4. Baseball needs to stop the “Tradition Worship” and use an automated strike zone. These umpires are incredibly inconsistent. The zone will at least be consistent with automation.
    Roberts is a terrible manager of pitchers and proved it again.
    But the big problem is this team has stopped consistently hitting the last quarter and are not having the same professional bats as the first of the year.
    That will make them lose in the playoffs,
    Thankfully Ryu was great and it appears he solved whatever mechanical issues he was having.

  5. If you have a fear that your bullpen is an issue, then why go to it as you do? If you have a known weak ,ink, and you opt for that weakling, it is on you. Take out Kelly to bring in a lefty, on a batter who hits lefties, is not the analytical thing to do yet, Roberts does. Which Roberts are we getting?
    THIS is the Roberts/Friedman we saw in the 2017 WS and the Roberts/Friedman we will see again this year.
    Besides that, we could not muster one run.
    I’m nervous over what will be this season, again.

  6. Clint, I need to point out that in Saturday’s night’s game, Kelly was pitching in his third game in four days; I think that might be a bit excessive. Secondly, Urias came on in relief of Kelly and the roof fell in. When Urias starts an inning of relief, he is better than when he is brought in and runners are on base. Roberts should have been appraised of this and taken appropriate action!!!!! Go Blue!!!!

  7. Urias doesn’t belong on the post-season roster. Period.

    Not only was it the wrong pitch, it was a horrible one, as well.

    • Your crazy and must know nothing about baseball! To say Urias not belong on a postseason roster? He killed it last year. New comedian in town wadodger! ?

      • lmao your point is that he killed it last year so he should be on this years playoffs roster. Judging by your English skills I’m not shocked you would make such a comment

  8. The results of last night’s game will most likely be similar to what happens to Dodgers during the 1st round of playoffs and after the 1st week in October Dodgers and all of us can go home.

  9. If the Dodgers owners really want to win it all they need to put Friedman and Roberts on the next flight to Alaska, first and foremost. Then, they just need a manager to get creative with the bullpen. And by that I’m talking about relegating starters to the bullpen.

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