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The Success Of The Dodgers’ Pitching In 2017

Jul 19, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) is congratulated by catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) after recording the final out against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

How many teams have made the playoffs and won a World Series in the post season after a season where no starting pitcher started thirty games? Before we answer that question, collectively we need to understand that the game of baseball has changed strategically speaking. Managers and front offices in today’s game utilize the bullpen sooner and more often in games. Therefore, for comparisons sake, we contextually compare.

First, the answer to the question is none, never, zilch. As of Sunday morning, the Dodgers bullpen has accumulated 552+ innings pitched with a 3.32 earned run average, 630 strikeouts, and 180 walks with 10.26 strikeouts per nine innings. We already know the Dodgers starters, despite not racking up innings pitched, have one of the best starting rotations entering the 2017 playoffs. The Dodgers bullpen amazingly ranks in the top five in all major pitching categories and yet is 12th in innings pitched.

In fact, the top ten teams in bullpen innings pitched (except for the Minnesota Twins at 9th) are not making the playoffs. Only the Cubs (11th), Dodgers (12th), and the Twins are playoff teams of the top twelve. This makes sense because high bullpen use shows a weak starting pitching staff and arm overuse, and the result is almost always no late October baseball.

What has made the Dodgers so successful and healthy this year entering the playoffs revolves around the Dodgers front office utilizing the new 10-day DL rules to their advantage and limiting starting pitchers innings for the benefit of the playoff run. Now some of this is due to serious injury, but for the most part it has been for minor injuries, preventative, and for rest. However, for all the rest, call ups, and jockeying of the Dodgers lineup card, this Dodgers team seems like the healthiest and winningest team in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

This 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers team was one game off tying the franchise record for wins (105 in Brooklyn, 1953). The Dodgers have earned 104 wins, the most since the 1942 season in Brooklyn. The Dodgers also have the most wins in all of baseball since the 2004 season.

It has been a special regular season for the franchise, indeed. By the way, the Dodgers pitching staff are no slouches. The Dodgers arguably have the deepest starting pitching staff and bullpen entering the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are considered top five candidates for the National League Cy Young Award race.

And the offense? You do not win ballgames without a solid offensive force. Cody Bellinger will be the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year (the second year in a row for the Dodgers, Corey Seager in 2016). As a team, the Dodgers have hit the most home runs in franchise history (221) and for the first time ever have six players with twenty or home runs (Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and Yasmani Grandal). Enrique Hernandez and Logan Forsythe also have eleven home runs each.

With home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Dodgers also secured, for the first time in franchise history, a fifth straight National West Division crown. A sincere and hearty congratulations to all 2017 playoff teams their coaching staffs, front offices, and fans! It has been a terrific and wonderful 2017 Major League Baseball season.

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Written by Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an Outreach Captain for the Sports Lawyers Association and is an award-winning attorney and community leader based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com or via his website: www.CSLlegal.com.

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