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Dodgers’ Middle Relievers are Unsung Heroes

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)

With nearly a quarter of the regular season in the books, the Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting atop of the National League West.  In fact, they lead all of Major League Baseball in the win column with 23.  Despite those facts, many are quick to criticize a bullpen, that for the most part, has been very effective.

Yes, Kenley Jansen has blown 2 saves, but he also has the most strikeouts of any Dodger reliever and has converted 12 of 14 save opportunities, 3rd in all of baseball.  Yes, Joe Kelly has a 10.13 ERA with 3 blown saves of his own, but until his last outing he had been improving; striking out 7 and giving up just 2 runs over his last 5 2/3 innings.  While it was expected that Jansen and Kelly would be the 1-2 punch for the 8th and 9th innings, it’s the Dodgers’ middle relievers that are the unsung heroes.

Scott Alexander (2-1)

Left-handed pitcher Scott Alexander has posted 6 holds, a 2.84 ERA, and 9 strikeouts through 12.2 innings pitched.  The key to Alexander’s success has been keeping the ball in the park.  Of the 51 batters faced, he has only given up one home run and forced 25 ground balls resulting in 3 double plays.  Often coming into the game in the 6th or 7th inning, Scott Alexander has been particularly useful at bridging the gap to the  Jansen when starters fail to make it to the 7th inning.

Dylan Floro  (1-0)

While the right-handed Dylan Floro, might not be the ground ball specialist that Alexander is, he has been every bit as effective as him.  Through 15 innings Floro has an impressive 0.00 ERA, 10 strikeouts, and just 1 walk.  Additionally, he has managed to avoid any home runs being hit against him and has only surrendered 2 extra-base hits.

Floro has been exceptional as a Dodger.

Pedro Báez (2-1)

You must hand it to the Dodgers’ front office or more importantly, Dave Roberts for not quitting on Pedro Báez.  Not long ago Báez couldn’t be trusted in a pressure situation.  He had a tendency to groove fastballs like he was tossing batting practice to a JV squad.  Even though he’s always maintained a good ERA for himself, he inflated his predecessors’ by frequently allowing his inherited runners to score.

No longer! Báez has become Roberts’ shut down man, the guy to go to when we need to stop the hemorrhaging.  In 19 innings this year, Báez has 7 holds, a 3.32 ERA, 19 strikeouts, and just 3 walks. What’s more impressive though, is that he has only allowed 3 of his 13 inherited runners to score, effectively turning his worst trait into his best.

Final Thoughts

Baseball is a fluid game.  There is ebb and flow, that’s the beauty of it.  Players rise to the occasions when their teammates slump.  Is it coincidence that once Cody Bellinger is sidelined a few games for his shoulder injury, that Max Muncy and Chris Taylor awaken?  No. I have little doubt that Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen can regain form, but in the mean time these three have risen.

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Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

5 Comments

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  1. Jason you are correct there is an ebb and flow to the game and it is part of the beauty of it. I am not convinced Kelly “Comes Back” from his problems as he has been very streaky his entire career.
    I do give huge props to Baez as he has re-invented himself as a pitcher with an effective swing and miss change-up. Watching the game teaches us that changing a pitches speed and elevation throws the batter off. Baez stuck with perfecting other pitches as before he lived or died with his fastball.

    Jansen in my opinion needs to perfect some type of change of pace pitch that is at least 10 mph slower than the cutter and then have the courage to throw it when he needs a swing and miss. Jansen has always changed pitch elevation well and uses it effectively but everyone is sitting on that 90 MPH cutter and are getting the barrel of the bat on it too often for a closer’s out pitch. I am not as concerned about Jansen’s velocity as I am his spin rate, pitch movement and most importantly his lack of control both this year and last.

  2. Shh, don’t put the “bright spotlight” on the middle relievers. I purposely have Not mentioned their names, so they can continue doing their job without anybody noticing it. I will use an analogy. Jordan Speith has won 3 Majors so quick in his career that everyone who doesn’t regularly follow golf believes he will win Majors left-and-right. I don’t even play golf but I know golf is a demanding and frustrating sport! “Jordan Speith how’s your game, how come you missed the cut? ” etc.etc. Going back to the Dodgers middle relievers, as long as they don’t “add fuel to the fire” when they enter the game. Continued success fellows!

    • Dodger media loves to expose everything about their team and then later on wonders why they can never go all the way

  3. Urias was hitting 97 and 98 on his fastball last night. When he doesn’t need to pace himself he can bring some heat. Might be the closer of the future, or at least alternate with Kenley. I take back some of the things I said about Taylor. He is 9 for 29 (.429) in May and he has had some clutch hits. If he can keep it up he and Turner, give us two solid RH bats. Here in Tennessee I had to stay up until 1:30, but it was worth it.

    • I think Urias should close In the playoffs and next year when his innings limit is off he can finally be a mainstay in the rotation

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