Stacked with more relievers than spots available, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen initially looked as though only the elite performers would be kept on the roster and the excess would be optioned to the minors or traded. Now 45 games into the season, the Dodger bullpen is a glaring weakness, with few reliable options for manager Don Mattingly to call on.
The once maligned Brandon League is in the midst of a 20.1 scoreless innings streak. While Brian Wilson, who was impressive in 2013 after coming off Tommy John surgery, has regressed. Newcomers Chris Perez and Jamey Wright have not been consistent enough to solidify the later innings.
With plenty of the relievers signed to substantial contracts and without the option of being sent down, the Dodgers don’t appear to have much flexibility to solve their bullpen issues should they continue. However, according to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon, general manager Ned Colletti would consider trading a reliever if necessary:
Colletti said he also would consider trading for a reliever before — or after — July 31, even if it meant swallowing the remaining salary of one of his current pitchers.
As Colletti has stated in the past, he again reiterated a move would be made if it meant improving the team:
Everything is worth a discussion if we think we can make our club better.”
While the bullpen isn’t entirely to blame for the Dodgers’ 23-22 record, you would be hard pressed to simply gloss over their collective statistics. They hold a 4.38 ERA, are second in MLB with 83 walks, which is also good for first in the National League.
In the early stages of the season, Mattingly was on the verge of severely overusing his bullpen, specifically Kenley Jansen. At one point, the closer was on pace to appear in over 100 games. Whether it merits a connection to Jansen’s win-loss record can be debated, but he’s already suffered two losses this season after only three last season.
As a whole, the bullpen is tied for the most appearances in all of baseball with 45. Their struggles have the cost the Dodgers wins both in terms of being unable to hold onto leads and in their inability to keep games close.
Their troubles led to Mattingly recently stating the team was still in search of answers for late-game situations. While League may slowly but surely be cementing himself as the team’s new setup man, the remainder of the bullpen has plenty to iron out.
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