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Dodgers: Exploring What Could Be Wrong with Dylan Floro

It’s almost a tale of two seasons for the righty.

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Dylan Floro#51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks to the sky with his face in his glove prior to delivering a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 25, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

As atrocious as the Dodgers bullpen has been this season and last, one of the few names to consistently elicit praise rather than vitriol is Dylan Floro. Armed with a near-unhittable sinker, he blossomed in 2018 with a 1.63 ERA after being reacquired from Cincinnati at the deadline. His incredibly nondescript face has made him one of the most original fan favorites of recent times.

To begin the 2019 season, Floro was shaping up to be an MLB-wide elite reliever with an ERA around 0.50 (it was even 0.00 for his first 16 games). Since then, the sheen of invincibility has worn off. On May 22 in Tampa Bay, he was charged with his first loss of the season, allowing 4 runs in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie. Monday against Anaheim was another low point, surrendering a game-tying home run to Mike Trout that later turned into a Joe Kelly loss.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – MAY 22: Dylan Floro #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks off after being removed in the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Even before that, there were signs of regression. He blew a save opportunity in San Francisco on April 29, and another against the Nationals on May 11. Two days before that, he allowed 2 runs to score in a 6-0 loss to Washington.

This begs the question: what exactly is wrong with Floro? Or perhaps more accurately, is anything wrong to begin with? Before you expect any painstaking analysis of his velocity and pitch selection, I have to make clear that I don’t have access to watching Dodgers games. Thus, I can’t provide the exact measures I feel are necessary for a complete assessment.

Additionally, I want to make clear this is not an article attacking Floro. He is one of my favorite players on the team. I am not belittling him, or calling for a demotion or DFA. To the contrary, I want to spotlight his recent struggles in the hopes that he regains his form soon.

Perhaps the simple truth is that Floro is an excellent reliever, but not a high-leverage one, as evidenced by his blown saves and inherited runners scoring. Take game four of the 2018 World Series. Most fans peg Ryan Madson as the goat of that disaster, and rightly so, as the 3-run homer he surrendered to Mitch Moreland in the seventh turned a 4-0 lead into a 4-3 nailbiter. Kenley Jansen then continued his World Series woes with a game-tying home run to Steve Pearce in the eighth.

However, even after all that, it was Floro who was the official losing pitcher. Taking over for Jansen in the ninth, the game was still tied at 4 and by all means winnable. He started by retiring Eduardo Nunez, but then surrendered a double to Brock Holt. This was followed by a pinch-hit RBI single from Rafael Devers that broke the tie. While the 4 other runs in the inning were facilitated by Alex Wood and then allowed by Kenta Maeda, one of them was charged to Floro, and he was still the one who took the L as the Red Sox took a 3-1 series lead.

My best guess (that could admittedly be wishful thinking) is that right now he’s not helped by what a total disaster the bullpen is. Even more so than last year, there is no coherence in how anyone is used. This is exacerbated by the failure of Joe Kelly, who was supposed to be the lockdown late innings guy before Jansen. Because of Kelly’s unreliability, the seventh and eighth are now done by committee, which is suboptimal. Floro seems like a reliever who is best used fluidly, but is not an everyday setup man like, say, Rob Dibble for the 1990 Reds.

This ultimately leads back to the oft-made point of Friedman needing to acquire top relievers rather than scrap-heap discounts. I believe we’ll need three fresh hands to shore up the bullpen this summer, including someone who can be the eighth-inning setup man. With that problem finally solved, Floro wouldn’t be thrown into that role arbitrarily.

Even with his poor performance as of late, I still love our faceless reliever. He’s one of the few of this woebegotten relief corps I’d be fine with seeing on the playoff roster. But it would be far more reassuring if he earned that spot through better numbers rather than by default.

What do you all think? Is Floro a mediocre reliever regressing to the mean? Or is he elite, and just being worn down? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Marshall Garvey

13 Comments

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  1. All I know is that my wife stomps out of the room and refuses to watch if they call Floro into a game. From her perspective, why intentionally torture yourself by watching Floro blow a lead? That being said, I personally think he has potential, but should only be used in non-leveraged situations until he gets back into the groove.

  2. #1 problem with Floro is Roberts inability to use the pieces in the bullpen smartly. He thinks he is the master when he just plain stinks. Usage one a pitcher for 1 batter is dumb and does not work with the BP we have. He goes thru the arms and runs out of options towards the end of games. Floro seems to need at least a day of rest between usage. Baez can’t seem to thrive in high level situations. We need to send Kelly+Alexander down to hopefully fix their problems but think Kelly is a complete failure. The Dodgers were not hitting anybody in the WS so Kelly’s performance shpuld not have meant much and his terrible ERA during the season was terrible. Big mistake signing him.

    • Word for word, you have articulated exactly what I feel the problem is. Roberts is awful at managing an already awful pen, and Floro is taxed more because of it. And right there with you on Alexander and Kelly, I don’t see them making the playoff roster regardless. Honestly, anyone outside of Baez, Floro and Jansen isn’t important to me (except Urias due to left-handedness and playoff experience). Friedman needs to own the failure of the Kelly deal and treat relievers this deadline like he did with the Darvish and Machado deals.

  3. All I know is any player who is entered in the home run derby should use Dylan Floro as their pitcher.

  4. I might be wrong (would have to do some verifying of prior games), but Floro was interviewed on Dodger Radio, and asked why he covers his face with his glove, like his signature stance. He said it gives him a chance to breathe one last time before releasing the ball. So I have seen him a lot lately, not doing so, and wondering if it is impacting his effectiveness.

    • Interesting! I didn’t know that’s the reason he did that. Maybe he feels thrown out of his rhythm right now.

  5. Oh GAWD, what a mess the BP is. Skipper has a blind spot there; otherwise does a good job…..speaketh a civilian.

  6. I think Floro is another one of our scrap heap pick ups who got hot and now is returning to reality.

  7. I agree that the Dodgers bullpen certainly needs at least a couple arms. However, it is the one area that it is tough to criticize Friedman. If you had a Crystal Ball and knew that Kelly would be putrid, you would not sign him, wait out the Kimbrel market and overpay him a bit over what he got with the Cubs. Although Kimbrel may still not have signed as he wanted to close.

    Three of the top available bullpen arms this off season have been huge busts, Kelly, Familia, and Robertson. Go back in recent years and there are limitless examples, like Melanacon or Greg Holland, etc.

    Since the bullpen is such a crapshoot and you can easily waste tens of millions on bum arms, the best course is to take some of your best young pitchers and break them in for a season or two in the bullpen. Urias now, maybe bring up May and give him a shot. By 2020 one or both will be in the rotation, then you do with the next young gun…

    • I agree the bullpen is a crapshoot, and throwing money at relievers often doesn’t work. (Remember the 2014 bullpen with Wilson, Perez, etc.). However, Friedman has had too many scrap-heap pickups and that really shows his weakness with the relief corps. He’s admitted the bullpen keeps him up at night. Fortunately, it’s the only thing we really need this deadline, and if he got us Darvish and Machado I think he’ll do the same for relievers this July.

      • Last week, Friedman said that is about having 4-5 good arms in the pen come October and that he feels good about the chances of those 4-5 arms coming from within but, of course him and the others are looking at outside resources as well. I’m assuming 4-5 arms is in addition to the arms like Baez and Jansen. So, I read that is the regular season is more or less auditions for the relievers for the postseason.

        That being said, I kinda of agree with him… to a point. I remember people calling for Baez’s head not to far in the past but, by the numbers has been and is a pretty good reliever. So, him and Jansen for sure bets. If you look at my previous comments I think Floro and Alexander are better than they’ve looked recently and are getting more of the blame than they should. Same could be said for Ferguson. Now my opinion on the last three guys I mentioned is the workload and the way they’re being used. I think Floro and Alexander are worn down and I think Ferguson’s numbers are inflated from a couple bad outings 3 to be exact.

        I think Gosolin will get a try before May but, I think one or both of those guys with the guys we already have can take us deep into the playoffs.

  8. With Floro, I think the workload and perhaps even how he is being used is an issue. If you look at 2018 regular season between Cincy and LA he carried a 2.25 era in 54 games. Then, he made 8 apperances in the playoffs giving up 3 runs in 8 games through 7 innings. Of course, we all know those 3 runs against the Sox. But, he was scoreless previous to that so with the exception of his WS performance, that looks like a decent if not elite reliever. So, heading into 2019 there was no reason to worry about him, now 3 months into the season and he has already has made half of the number of apperances that he made all of last year!

  9. The way I see it is that he’s having a hard time fitting in. I’m sure he’s a good pitcher just not with the dodgers. He has jumped around so much in his career that he probably doesn’t know how to fit in to where he’s comfortable with his team. He has no confidence and he’s trying to hard to impress everyone instead of just being himself. So right now with the Dodgers being so good they dont need dead weight dragging them down. You can see it in the rest of the players faces when he’s pitching. They all know it’s not going to be good.

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