The Los Angeles Dodgers have been bit by the injury bug early in the 2015 season, with the latest news that pitcher Brandon McCarthy will miss the remainder of the season with a torn UCL in his right elbow.
The 31-year-old was signed to a four-year, $48 million deal in the offseason to be the team’s fourth starter. With third starter Hyun-Jin Ryu still yet to make his season debut, McCarthy was relied on heavily to eat up innings and keep the bullpen fresh.
According to Dodgers Nation’s Matt Moreno, the head of the front office who signed McCarthy does not believe the injury to McCarthy is a positive for the Dodgers’ bullpen:
It always comes back to the bullpen, and ironically enough, this injury scares me [for] the bullpen,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We have [starters] that I feel like can help keep us in games. I worry about the length they are going to provide, and the toll it’s going to take on the bullpen. But we also have a really deep bullpen.”
Candidates to replace McCarthy include right-handers Mike Bolsinger and Scott Baker, among others. They both have pitched well in spot starts this season, but whether they can keep that up for a whole season is up in the air.
Freidman emphasized adding pitching depth this offseason, and now with the injury to McCarthy he feels they will utilize all of that depth:
We’re just going to have to continue to work through series to series and week to week to make sure we’re not putting our relievers in harm’s way in terms of how much workload they are taking on,” Freidman said. “We have guys on both the right side and left side that we feel can help eat up some of these innings.”
The Dodgers bullpen has been impressive so far this season, yielding a 2.44 ERA in 59 innings, which ranks sixth in Major League Baseball. In 2014, the Dodgers bullpen’s 3.80 ERA ranked 22nd. Another emphasis of Friedman and the front office this past offseason was to add pitchers with the ability to miss bats, and it has shown early this season as the bullpen has struck out 75 batters, second in MLB.
McCarthy also showed his ability to miss bats, striking out 29 in 23 innings before his injury, but with him out for the remainder of the season it is time for other guys to step up and do the same.
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