The Los Angeles Dodgers front office addressed the team’s needs at the trade deadline, picking up two starting pitchers in Mat Latos and Alex Wood, and two veteran bullpen pieces in Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan.
While Dodgers did not add a third ace in Cole Hamels or David Price, the four pitchers brought in figure to nonetheless make a positive impact. Particularly Johnson, who has 133 saves over his career, and could help solidify late-inning situations for the Dodgers.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Johnson expressed confidence in what he and Avilan bring to their new club. “I think the purpose of Louie [Avilan] and I was to strengthen the backend of the bullpen,” Johnson said.
“Every team that wants to play in October and win games in October, that’s the key factor getting those key outs at the end of the game. That’s why we’re here and that’s what we’re willing to do.” Despite his experience in closing games, Johnson made it clear he has no issues with deferring to Kenley Jansen.
“They got some qualified guys to pitch in the backend of the game and Kenley has been one of the best in the game for a while,” Johnson said. “I’m not here to do anything except help pull the rope in the same direction as everybody else.
“I’ve always referred to the bullpen as the ‘team within the team’ and we do our part together. If he gets a save, that’s one in my book too. We’re all in it together.” The 32-year-old Johnson and 26-year-old Avilan will aim to improve a Dodgers bullpen ranks 23rd in the Majors with a 3.91 ERA.
Johnson is having a nice rebound season after a rough 2014. He has a 2.25 ERA and nine saves in 48 innings pitched. His debut with the Dodgers did not go off without a hitch however, as he gave up a game-tying solo home run in the eighth inning.
While Johnson spoke of wanting to help contribute to the bullpen, he was picked up by his fellow relievers and Andre Ethier, who hit a walk-off, two-run home run in the 10th inning to sweep the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.