Heading into the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were armed with the largest payroll in all of baseball, a surplus of outfielders and four relievers with closing experience, plus other reasons to be optimistic.
However, the Dodgers stumbled out of the gate, which turned into being consistently inconsistent as they slipped further and further away from first place in the NL West. Along with poor hitting, the Dodger bullpen was to blame for the slow start this year.
While the Dodgers have improved in multiple facets, which includes the bullpen, the group of relievers is still an issue general manager Ned Colletti would like to get set in place, according to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
Ned Colletti on early trade deadline thoughts: "I'd like to get our bullpen squared away, whether it's internally or externally."
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) June 28, 2014
Dating back to last winter, the Dodgers have been linked to David Price rumors, but with Rays’ reported high asking price and the Dodgers’ starting rotation pitching well, Colletti has shifted his focus elsewhere.
Brandon League has been one of the few relievers who has pitched well season-long; J.P. Howell is another who’s been reliable. As manager Don Mattingly has worked to get roles in place, Chris Perez and Brian Wilson have been inconsistent.
Wilson was placed on the disabled list after the third game of the season and has yet to replicate the pitcher he was last season. Perez was strong early, then faded a bit.
Kenley Jansen for that matter has also had his share of troubles. The closer has already blown three saves, which is one less than he did last season.
All that being considered, the Dodgers bullpen holds the third best ERA in the National League and are third in wins, while leading the league in games pitched. Some of Colletti’s desire to ensure the bullpen is set may be tied to Chris Withrow’s injury.
The right-hander was a big part of the bullpen last season and is out for the remainder of the year after deciding to undergo Tommy John surgery.
An internal option for the Dodgers may be with their Triple-A affiliate — Paco Rodriguez. The young left-hander was effective for Mattingly before eventually withered down the stretch due to fatigue.
With the experience under his belt and a lighter workload, Rodriguez could be a viable answer for Colletti and the Dodgers.
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