It is no secret that the Dodgers bullpen is their weakest link with an offense that ranks first in the National League in OPS (.796) and a starting rotation that ranks first in ERA (3.17) as well. The bullpen ERA so far this season is a sub-standard 4.30, ranking 8th in the National League and 17th in Major League Baseball.
Given that the Dodgers are pretty darn good right now, what would you like to see upgraded? Bullpen is always a correct answer but what else? Right handed bat? Catcher?
— Tim Rogers (SD Dodger) (@SDDodger) May 19, 2019
State of the Bullpen
The current bullpen consists of the following, with ERAs attached:
Kenley Jansen: 3.98
Pedro Baez: 2.95
Dylan Floro: 0.47
Yimi Garcia: 5.03
Joe Kelly: 8.80
Ross Stripling: 3.13 (8.10 in relief)
Scott Alexander: 3.46
Caleb Ferguson: 3.07
Although the ERAs don’t look too bad, outside of Joe Kelly and the fact that Yimi Garcia has a 4.75 FIP and Caleb Ferguson has a 6.26 FIP. Brutal.
A Look at Luke Gregerson
Recently, the St. Louis Cardinals designated long-time Padres reliever Luke Gregerson for assignment.
RHP Luke Gregerson has been placed on unconditional release waivers.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 20, 2019
Gregerson has pitched to the tune of a 7.94 ERA so far this season. Yes that is absolutely bad, but what if I told you his DRA is a much more reasonable 4.13 and his FIP is a stellar 2.93? He has allowed 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings this season which is terrible.
In 2018, he did not fare much better, posting a 7.11 ERA and 4.74 FIP. However, DRA says Gregerson was better than average.
2015 DRA: 2.77
Those numbers do not look that bad to me. At this stage of his career, he is probably, at best, a low-3.00 ERA pitcher. That is an upgrade with Yimi Garcia and Joe Kelly displaying far worse.
When Luke Gregerson signed a 2-year/$11 million deal with St. Louis, he was expected to step in and be an excellent setup man and potentially close out games for them. He earned that contract after a fantastic three-year campaign with the Houston Astros where he posted ERAs of 3.10, 3.28, and 4.57. The first two seasons went well and the 2017 does not look so good, but all his peripherals hinted at a solid reliever.
A Silver Lining
Here is what the reason could be: Luke Gregerson’s fastball velocity has declined at an alarming rate and his fastball usage has…increased…at the same alarming rate. Gregerson has always been a pitcher whose bread and butter has been his off-speed. With both rates trending in the wrong direction, Gregerson’s performance has gone down with it. If the Dodgers can get Gregerson’s pitch mix back in order and Gregerson gets the chance to work with Rick Honeycutt, it could mean his career is revitalized. Since Luke Gregerson headed to St. Louis, he has tailed off and it might not be entirely his fault. He is 35 years old, but he might not be over the hill.
By no means am I saying Luke Gregerson is the answer to our bullpen needs. He most likely is not. However, he is a veteran who has pitched high-leverage innings in the recent past and was a World Series champion just two years ago.
Give him a shot, Friedman!