The Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen is bad. I realize that Pedro Baez has been much better and that Kenley Jansen has seen a little resurgence, but they are just a flickering candle in an other wise dark room. Not too long ago, I wrote about how the Dodgers’ middle relievers were “unsung heroes”, well, the jig is up and I was duped. I’m beginning to think the front office was too. Either way its time to step away from the bargain bin bullpen and invest in some proven talent.
Best NL Starting Rotation
The Dodger currently have a starting rotation that leads the National League in Wins (45), Fewest Losses (22), Lowest ERA (2.73), Shutouts (9), Innings Pitched (396), Fewest Earned Runs (120), Fewest Runs (130), Fewest Walks (80), Lowest Batting Average Against (.219), Lowest WHIP (1.01), and Strikeout to Walk ratio (4.89). The are without question, the best starting rotation in the National League.
One of the Worst NL Bullpens
By contrast however, the Dodgers bullpen has been up there with the worst! They have the 5th worst ERA (4.42), fewest Strikeouts (194), 4th most Wild Pitches (13), and are 2nd in Hit Batsmen. Collectively they have been responsible for 13 of the Dodgers’ 22 losses this year. They have blown a 5th worst 11 save opportunities and have the second highest percentage of inherited runs scored (39%). In fact, Scott Alexander and Dylan Floro have allowed the 2nd most (10) and the 8th most (8) inherited runners to score.
On the surface the Dodgers relievers don’t look so bad. Yimi Garcia (4.38) and Joe Kelly (7.59) are the only two relievers above a 3.63 ERA. However, Floro and Alexander’s ERA’s are inflated from all the inherited runs they’ve given up. They rarely start a clean inning where the runs scored wrack up their own ERA. Don’t get me wrong, Kelly’s command has been awful, and Garcia has been inconsistent as well, they just haven’t been brought in as much with runners on.
The point is, the Dodgers don’t have that tourniquet reliever when the game gets out of hand. No one to call in to stop the bleeding, to get that big strikeout to get out of a jam. Even if they did though, would Roberts trust them to do it? Roberts’ utilization and micromanagement of the bullpen could be a whole other article, but I digress.
Friedman Era Strategy
The Dodgers have been so successful in the Friedman era, largely in part by their ability to stock up the farm system with prospects and diamonds in the rough. They didn’t budge on trading away their future talent like Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger, and most recently, Alex Verdugo. As someone who has loved that about the front office, I think its time to temporarily adjust strategy.
Time to go All In
There is a time when a team is on the cusp of becoming champions, that they need to go all in. At some point the front office needs to back away from the bargain bin and pay for top shelf goods. That time is now. Trade a prospect or two. Spend some money. Maybe a little of both, but add this piece to the puzzle. Instead of trying to limp into the playoffs and hope for some post-season sleeper heroics, go get that top tier reliever. Better yet, get two and step on the necks of every team in the way of holding that Commissioner’s Trophy above your heads.