In October, the Los Angeles Dodgers hired former Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman to be their new president of baseball operations after another postseason run fell short of a World Series title.
Since taking over in Los Angeles, Friedman has made many changes, including what was perhaps the biggest offseason need for the Dodgers — upgrading the bullpen. The Dodgers’ bullpen ranked 22nd in 2014 with a 3.80 team ERA, and they were third-worst in the Majors with 206 walks.
With new relievers added to the mix, Friedman identified what he values in a bullpen, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
The one characteristic we value the most is the ability to miss bats,” said Friedman. “When you can do that while limiting walks, it makes it that much more difficult for the other team to score.”
Former general manager Ned Colletti’s approach to the bullpen, specifically last season, was to assemble and rely on multiple former closers in Brandon League, Chris Perez and Brian Wilson, to get the ball to Kenley Jansen.
The approach did not turn out well, and Wilson and Perez are no longer with the team, and Colletti is no longer the general manager. Some of Friedman’s bullpen acquisitions include veteran relievers, whose tendencies are to walk less batters.
Acquired in separate trades, Chris Hatcer and Joel Peralta both had strikeout-to-walk ratios of around 5.0 last season, while the Dodgers as a team had a ratio of 2.25 — sixth-worst in the National League.
Friedman believes that these additions, as well as the ground ball pitchers currently on the roster, will lead to a balanced and effective bullpen in 2015:
We like to diversify the looks we have in the bullpen — balance right-handed and left-handed options, guys that can put the ball on the ground,” Friedman said.
Should Dodger relievers manage to keep the ball on the ground, it presumably would bode well for a team with a remade middle infield now consisting of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins, both of whom are considered defensive upgrades over Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez.
Dodgers 2015 FanFest