Coming off another postseason run that was cut short, in part due to an inconsistent bullpen, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi did their best to address that point of weakness.
While the bullpen this season had its moments of inconsistency, there were also bright spots along the way. Kenley Jansen continued to be the anchor at the end of the line, with Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia among the relievers to shine at certain times.
Most recently, Luis Avilan and Chris Hatcher have done their part to make Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s decision(s) in the eighth inning of games much easier. “Hatch has been throwing the ball well for us for a while now,” Mattingly said recently.
“Since he came back [from the disabled list] he’s established himself late. I think outside of that we’ve mixed and matched. Luis [Avilan] has been out later-inning lefty, he gets righties and lefties out.”
Operating for much of the season without defined roles — excluding Jansen as closer — Mattingly conceded Avilan and Hatcher are his preferred choices for late-inning situations. “Really we’ve used a number of guys to get us back to those guys. Sometimes even using a right-left-right in the same inning trying to matchup just to get the ball back there [to Hatcher and/or Avilan],” the fifth-year manager said.
“In general, the later innings have been going to Hatcher and Luis as we try to get the ball to Kenley.” Hatcher was the closer on Opening Day and converted the save opportunity while Jansen was still on the shelf following offseason foot surgery.
However, Hatcher went on to struggle and eventually landed on the disabled list. In the month of September, the 30 year old threw 11 innings and gave up just two earned runs, while striking out 13 on his way to recording four holds and one save.
Avilan, who came over from the Atlanta Braves in the 13-player trade in July, has also been used late in games to hold a lead for Jansen. Heading into Sunday, Avilan hasn’t allowed a run in his last six relief appearances.