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Dodgers Poor Bullpen can have Offensive Consequences

If left unaddressed the Dodgers bullpen will impact offensive production.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 26: Pitcher Pedro Baez #52 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up the solo home run to Michael Morse #38 of the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on April 26, 2017 in San Francisco, California. The home run tied the game 3 to 3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There are few things more frustrating than that watching a starting pitcher leave a game with a lead or even tied up only to watch the game implode at the hands of the bullpen. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it has been common place this year.

As of this writing, the Dodgers are positioned at the top of the National League West Division by a comfortable 8 games. Furthermore, they have the NL’s best overall record in the at 37-19.  Unfortunately, this outstanding record could be up to 10 games better.

Bullpen by the Numbers

So far this season the Dodgers have lost 10 games in relief. This includes 8 blown saves out 25 opportunities. The Dodgers’ 4.66 relief ERA ranks 11th out of 15 in the NL. Additionally, Dodgers’ relievers have allowed 32 of 81 inherited runners to score. That’s nearly 40% and ranks them 14th in the NL. For a team with aspirations of a 3rd consecutive trip to the Fall Classic this is unacceptable.  It’s actually surprising they have performed this well, but make no mistake, if allowed to continue, the consequences will catch up.

Psychological Impacts

Baseball is a game of momentum. A leadoff hit can trigger a rally, early runs can lead to a strong start, and an outstanding defensive play can carry over and spark the offense. Conversely, consistently blowing hard earned leads or giving up insurmountable runs can have a reverse-momentum effect. It can demoralize and stifle the offense.

No batter will say it, but it’s frustrating to gain a lead, only to watch it squandered regularly. No starter will say it, but to go 6+ innings giving up less than 3 runs, only to see that the bullpen can’t get through 1 without giving up multiple, is enraging. The psychological ramifications don’t just end there on the team struggling. 

Opponents are scouting the Dodgers and focusing on the weak elements on the team. They know the Dodgers’ bullpen is weak and/or struggling and when there’s blood in the water, the sharks will come for you. Instead of opponents feeling completely beaten down by the Dodger’s torrid offense, they still have confidence. They know they can still come back. It used to be when “California Love” played at Dodger Stadium, you could sense the game was over. 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Kenley Jansen #74 (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

That feeling doesn’t exist these days. In fact, it’s been the opposite. Once you see Dave Roberts patting his starter on the back in the dugout, the butterflies start up.

The Dodgers are a 1/3 of the way through the season and their Achilles heel is a bullpen that can’t seem to hold lead or strand runners in crucial situations. While the reverse-momentum consequences of the bullpen issue haven’t begun yet, as clearly displayed in last night’s walk-off victory, it’s only a matter of time. If the Dodgers are to make it to the World Series again, and certainly if they hope to win it, they need to prioritize improving this bullpen, now. 

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

11 Comments

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  1. There’s a saying that goes “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” IF the Dodgers weakest link is their bullpen as a majority of Dodger fans fear then why doesn’t the FO do something about it. Either they don’t see the bullpen as a weakness or they feel it will correct itself.

    • Exactly!! Great take Robin! The FO must do something or quickly iron out bullpen command issues before it catches up to them. Playoffs ramps everything up and this bullpen performance just won’t work! Thank you for reading!!

  2. Others are saying the relievers, Garcia, Baez, Floro, Alexander, Stripling and Kelly have had success before and they will again but generally you want maybe one at most to struggle not the entire bullpen. I hope these guys peak before the playoffs and the FO makes an effort to bring in a veteran reliever soon.

    • Baez has been pretty solid all season, but you’re pretty spot on with the rest. Bullpen needs help soon! Here’s hoping an upgrade comes along! Thanks for reading H. Smitham!!

    • Could be nice, but very doubtful that the front office will spring for him. Plus at this point in the season, how much rust has developed?? Thanks again for reading Lou!!

    • DJR, I sure hope so, but based on the bargain bin shopping they typically do for the bull pen, I’m not holding my breath! Thank you for reading!!

  3. Nice to see a writer respond to comments. Maybe you can get a message to the front office – if they don’t get at least one reliable reliever before the trade deadline, this potential championship season will be lost again.

    • Jim I agree 100%! The offense can only carry us and bail us out of late innings so much and the competition is a whole new beast in the post season! Bullpen needs help! Thanks for reading, I’ll keep trying to respond!!

  4. Our Blowpen has been garbage! Floro and Baez have been decent but the rest of Pen been shaky at best! Our Blowpen will be our downfall if F.O. Doesn’t respond!

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