After another disappointing end to the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were clearly in need of a few changes. An inconsistent bullpen was a factor the club was eventually unable to overcome in the postseason and it cost them dearly.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi worked in the offseason to upgrade the group of relievers, and thus far have been rewarded for their work. Additions of Adam Liberatore, Juan Nicasio Joel Peralta have blended well with young arms Pedro Baez and Yimi Garica.
The backbone of the bullpen remains the same in closer Kenley Jansen, who has been lights out after missing the first six weeks of the season while recovering from foot surgery. When asked to compare the Dodgers bullpen this season to the 2014 group, Jansen didn’t hesitate to give the nod to the 2015 version, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
If I have to choose, I’ll choose this group over that group. That’s just a no-brainer,” Jansen said. “We have better stuff and the atmosphere is better, too.”
Brian Wilson and Chris Perez, who both proved to be faulty last season did not return; Perez wasn’t re-signed and Wilson was released three days after getting designated for assignment. More recently, Brandon League was another bullpen casualty as the Dodgers designated him for assignment on Thursday.
Manager Don Mattingly has backed his bullpen on multiple occasions this season and chalked up rough patches to an issue every team experiences throughout the year. In effort to lighten some of the load placed on the group in back-to-back games, Mattingly said recently he will adjust the starting rotation out of the All-Star break.
The idea being breaking up Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias given the two have had their share of struggles to pitch deep into games. On the season the Dodgers’ bullpen has a 3.31 ERA, which ranks fifth in the National League, 253 strikeouts and a .226 batting average against over 223 innings pitched.