The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has been one of the most scrutinized group of relievers in the past two seasons.
Many blame the bullpen for the Dodgers first round exit in the postseason in 2014 and they have continued to get blame for any struggles the team has had this season. The bullpen this season started the year strong, but has been on a downward spiral since the middle of May. They currently rank 12th in the NL with a 3.98 ERA and 20 losses. On Friday, the bullpen was charged with a loss after J.P. Howell allowed a walk-off single to Pedro Alvarez in the 10th inning.
Despite their rough outings, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw isn’t too concerned at the moment via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
The guys we acquired, Avy and JJ, have proven track records,” Kershaw said, defending the bullpen that will have to have his back in October. “You saw Avy get into trouble but he battled out of it. That was huge. JJ threw a really good inning before that last one. It happens.”
The reigning MVP continued to praise his relievers and explained how their bullpen might be a bit different than others:
(Juan) Nicasio has been throwing the ball really well. We obviously feel good about J.P. and Kenley (Jansen). We maybe don’t have defined roles like other teams. But we’ve got guys that can get people out, for sure.”
One would expect Kershaw to praise his team no matter what, but the reality is that the Dodgers bullpen has the tools without the results so far. Jansen is one of the better closers in the game; however, he is dealing with some location issues. The rest of the bullpen just has to execute better and they will get the chance to right the ship in the coming months.