Grading The 2018 Dodgers’ Bullpen

The Dodgers bullpen. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride. Like one of those roller coasters that’s so much fun, but you know you’re going to hit plenty of bumps while on the ride. 

Scott Alexander, 73 G, 66 IP, 27 ER, 56 SO, 3.68 ERA

This season was his first in a Dodgers uniform. Back in January, Alexander was part of a 3-team trade that involved the Dodgers, White Sox, and his former team, the Royals. Scott Alexander is one of the more interesting guys in the Dodgers bullpen. Dave Roberts relied heavily on Scott when the Dodgers were in a bit of a jam. Alexander is the ground ball specialist, and his numbers prove that. Alexander’s ground ball percentage was just north of 70%.

Grade: B+

Kenley Jansen, 69 G, 71.2 IP, 24 ER, 3.01 ERA, 82 SO, 38 Saves

2018 was not quite the year Jansen and the Dodger fans had in mind. We’ve been spoiled by Jansen’s ability to close the door in the 9th. Late in the season, Jansen struggled with heart issues while in Colorado. Jansen was expected to miss about a month, but returned much sooner than initially expected.

His numbers were much more inconsistent than previous years. In his 71.2 innings of relief work, he allowed 24 earned runs, that’s 14 more than he allowed last season in about the same amount of work. Jansen is expected to have heart surgery sometime in November.

Grade: B-

Caleb Ferguson, 29 G, 49 IP, 19 ER, 59 SO, 3.49 ERA

Caleb Ferguson is without a doubt my favorite addition to the Dodgers staff this season. At just 21 years of age, Ferguson was called up in early July due to multiple injuries from the starting rotation. The young southpaw was added to the starting rotation, but struggled early on. The decision to move him to the bullpen was smart. Ferguson appeared in 29 games over 49 innings of work, only 3 starts over that span. There is plenty of potential for this young man, whether it be in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

Grade: B

Pedro Baez, 55 G, 56.1 IP, 18 ER, 62 SO, 2.88 ERA

Who would have thought that I’d be talking good on Baez’s name at the end of the 2018 season? Early injuries sidelined Baez for some time. Baez looked good in his rehab starts in the minors and was ready to re-join the Dodgers in LA. Dodgers fans were not prepared to see number 52 step back on the mound. Pedro Baez, also known as “The Human Rain Delay”, came in guns-a-blazin’!

His fastball was always thrown hard, but this time it had a little something extra on it. It was working out in his favor. He no longer left the ball over the plate. The elevated fastball was devastating to hitters, and he finished the season stronger than ever. Do we all love Pedro Baez again?

Grade: A

Dylan Floro, 29 G, 27.2 IP, 5 ER, 30 SO, 1.63 ERA

Dylan Floro was without a doubt the best bullpen addition to a ball club before the trade deadline. Floro was traded to Los Angeles along with teammate Zach Neal. The velocity and pitch placement are two strong factors on Floro’s side. Of course Jansen and Baez were involved, but the Floro addition boosted them further than they would have ever imagined. Floro is on a promising path that hopefully involves the Dodgers along the way.

Grade: A+

Josh Fields, 45 G, 41 IP, 10 ER, 33 SO, 2.20 ERA

Josh Fields had a quietly respectable 2018 season. Josh Fields was drafted back in 2007 by the Boston Red Sox and has made his way around the league over the span of 11 years. The Dodgers traded for the righty a couple of years ago, stealing him from the Houston Astros. Fields has proved that he can still hang at the age of 32. He has shown signs of inconsistency, but the sub-three ERA says it all.

Grade: B+

J.T. Chargois, 39 G, 32.1 IP, 12 ER, 40 SO, 3.34 ERA,

J.T. Chargois, also known as “Shaggy” by some Dodger fans, had a decent year out of the pen for the Dodgers. Chargois is the kind of guy you do not want to face with two strikes. His 40 K’s in just over 32 innings sticks out like a sore thumb. His neck injury in late August resulted in yet another DL stint for the righty.

Grade: B

Kenta Maeda 39 G, 125.1 IP, 53 ER, 153 SO, 3.81 ERA

Now in his third full season with the Dodgers, Maeda has made the transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Whether he enjoyed the process or not, he was surprisingly dominant out of the bullpen gates. Maeda played an important long reliever role for the Dodgers in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see what the Dodgers do with Maeda depending on how the starting rotation will look for 2019.

Grade: A-

Ross Stripling, 33 G, 122 IP, 41 ER, 136 SO, 3.02 ERA

Your 2018 All-Star, Ross Stripling. What a first half from this young man. Probably one of the more interesting seasons from a Dodgers pitcher this year. His remarkable first half landed him a spot on the 2018 NL All-Star Roster. His first outing following the All-Star break, Stripling struggled, allowing 5 ER in just 4.2 innings of work in Philadelphia. The man known as “Chicken Strip” wasn’t the same since then.

A back issue landed Stripling on the DL in the middle of August. The struggles continued and forced Roberts to leave him off of each of the three playoff rosters.

Grade: A-

Ryan Madson, 9 G, 8.1 IP, 6 ER, 13 SO, 6.48 ERA

Yeah I know. I’m sure you all hate Madson after what occurred in the World Series. Madson has been around the majors for 13 years now, first breaking in with the Phillies back in 2003 at the age of 22. The Dodgers picked up Ryan Madson on the final day of August. Madson’s career ERA of 3.48 is nothing short of remarkable, but age has played a factor as time goes on. These are officially the late stages of his career.

Madson has some big decisions to make now at the age of 38. He showed the world what he was capable of in both the NLDS and NLCS in the 2018 playoffs. A couple of unfortunate outings in the World Series played a big part in the Dodgers’ downfall in the fall classic.

Grade: C+

Daniel Hudson, 40 G, 46 IP, 21 ER, 44 SO, 4.11 ERA

Hudson was the surprise bullpen name for me this season. Former starter back in 2011 with Arizona, Hudson has become a full-time bullpen piece. Manager Dave Roberts did ask Hudson to start one game this season while the starting staff was a little banged up. The nine year veteran starting a June 7th matchup in Pittsburgh, where he threw just one inning and didn’t allow a run. That was an obvious bullpen game.

Grade: B+

Erik Goeddel 26 G, 29.1 IP, 11 ER, 35 SO, 3.38 ERA,

The 29 year old Goeddel appeared in a majority of the games through about half the season until others returned from the DL. Goeddel’s breakout season was with the Mets back in 2015 where he held down a 2.43 ERA in over 33 innings of work. The Dodgers picked him up off waivers from the Mariners back in May.

Grade: B-

Yimi Garcia, 25 G, 22.1 IP, 14 ER, 19 SO, 5.64 ERA

Garcia broke in with the Dodgers back in 2014 at the age of 23. His first full season was the following year, where he appeared in 59 games and owned a 3.34 ERA. Unfortunate injuries have sidelined him for a majority of the last three seasons, including this year. Yimi has great stuff, hopefully his health won’t hold back what he can offer for the Dodgers in 2019.

Grade: C-

Tony Cingrani, 30 G, 22.2 IP, 12 ER, 36 SO, 4.76 ERA

The lefty specialist also dealt with an injury in the 2018 season that held him to just over 22 innings. Cingrani joined the Dodgers prior to the 2017 trade deadline. Have that extra lefty in the bullpen went a long way for Dave Roberts and his decision making.

Grade: C

Pat Venditte, 15 G, 14 IP, 4 ER, 9 SO, 2.57 ERA

Venditte’s time was limited this season with the Dodgers. As we all know, the ambidextrous Venditte is quite the asset in any bullpen in the league. Because he qualifies as both a lefty and right pitcher, you can throw him in any situation. Venditte was up and back from OKC multiple times this season.

Grade: B

Adam Liberatore, 17 G, 13 IP, 4 ER, 12 SO, 2.77 ERA

Liberatore joined the Dodgers for the first time in 2015 at the age of 28. He showed signs of greatness early on. Similar to guys like Venditte and Rosscup, Adam’s time was limited with the Dodgers. He appeared in just 17 games in 2018.

Grade: C+

Zac Rosscup, 17 G, 11.1 IP, 6 ER, 20 SO, 4.76 ERA

The 2018 season was the first for Rosscup, after spending time with NL foes, Cubs and Rockies. The lefty was up and back a handful of times from OKC to Los Angeles. He spend most of his time with the Dodgers due to other bullpen guys recovering from injuries. As we covered earlier on, there were plenty of injuries on the pitching side of things.

Grade: C-

Final Thoughts

As a whole, I thought the Dodgers bullpen had a great year. Obvious hiccups in the postseason showed the weak side of the Dodgers bullpen. Just like any pitching staff in baseball, there will be plenty of injuries throughout the six month season. Jansen’s inconsistencies played a vital role, as he has been the sure three out guy in the 9th for the Dodgers in his career.

Bullpen additions such as Maeda, Ferguson, and Floro played a healthy role for this team. This staff has the opportunity to come back strong and display to the rest of the league how dominant they are.

Team Bullpen Grade: B-

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