Three Free Agent Relievers The Dodgers Should Sign

Apr 12, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera (40) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers’ bullpen faced quite a few injuries in the 2018 season, along with the occasional hiccup here and there. Now that the 2019 off-season free agency is open, the front office of the Dodgers has a lot to think about.

The catcher and second basemen position are obviously top priorities, but the pitching side could also use some help. There are a lot of big names on the market this off-season, and Friedman and company are ready to spend the money necessary.

Kelvin Herrera, RHP

The 28-year-old, hard-throwing, right-hander has made a name for himself as a dominant bullpen piece. During his 8 year’s thus far, his career ERA currently sits at 2.82. His four-seam fastball is nothing special, but as a hitter, if you can’t keep up with it, there’s not much of a chance. Herrera uses his fastball nearly 70% of the time, which leads to his nasty change that is used 20% of the time.

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2011 Royals 71.9% (96.2) 9.4% (80.0) 18.8% (83.3)
2012 Royals 64.6% (98.5) 0.1% (90.0) 6.6% (81.0) 28.7% (86.9) 1.9%
2013 Royals 68.0% (98.2) 0.1% (88.0) 7.3% (81.0) 24.7% (87.1) 0.8%
2014 Royals 74.5% (98.1) 6.2% (81.2) 19.3% (89.4)
2015 Royals 76.3% (98.1) 4.1% (87.8) 1.8% (81.1) 17.8% (89.6) 0.3%
2016 Royals 60.2% (97.1) 15.9% (83.1) 5.2% (80.6) 18.6% (88.7)
2017 Royals 66.9% (97.5) 16.2% (88.2) 16.9% (90.4) 0.8%
2018 2 Teams 63.8% (96.5) 18.8% (80.8) 0.1% (76.0) 17.2% (88.3)
Total – – – 68.0% (97.8) 7.0% (84.5) 4.2% (81.0) 20.8% (88.4) 0.6%

Herrera has spent a majority of his career in Kansas City. The reliever was shipped to the nation’s capital back in June in exchange for a few minor leaguers. The Nationals knew they were receiving a key bullpen piece. Herrera has yet to turn 30 years old, and the velocity and other variety of pitches are still being used to his advantage. Not very tall, standing at 5 foot 10 inches, looks to his lower body to give him a majority of that power for his fastball.

Pedro Baez is the first person that comes to mind when I think of Kelvin Herrera. Pedro Baez stands at just six feet tall and built similar to Herrera. They both have great command and throw that four-seam very hard. I believe both of these guys are can be used in similar roles. Herrera would be a healthy addition to this Dodgers bullpen.

Justin Wilson, LHP

Justin Wilson was the Dodgers 37th round draft choice way back in the 2005 amateur draft. Wilson decided to attend Fresno State instead and was later drafted by the Pirates just 3 years later in the 2008 amateur draft in the 5th round. The lefty has never owned numbers that’ll grab your attention. Wilson spent the last season and a half with the Chicago Cubs, after being traded from Detroit just a season ago.

Here are Wilson’s splits facing RHB/LHB:

vs RHB 59 143 123 13 30 8 0 2 0 1 20 37 1.85 .244 .350 .358 .707 5
vs LHB 57 93 79 7 15 3 0 3 1 1 13 32 2.46 .190 .301 .342 .643 0

Wilson appeared in 71 games in 2018 with the Cubs, his second most appearances in his career, which is 74 games. Picking up Wilson wouldn’t cost the Dodgers much at all. Last year, his deal with the Cubs was 1 year/$4.25 million. With the possibility of Ferguson and Alexander returning to the bullpen for the 2019 season, it’ll be interesting to see if the front office attacks and steals a lefty from the market.

Wilson could be used in a role similar to Scott Alexander’s. Wilson is known as a lefty specialist, and it would be nice to have two guys in the bullpen that could get that type of job done.

Joe Kelly

Yes, I know. I’m sure some of you may dislike Joe Kelly. Not only because of how dominant he was facing the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series but for his actions back in the 2013 NLCS as well. Joe Kelly plunked star shortstop Hanley Ramirez in game one of the NLCS, limiting Han-Ram for the rest of the series. The Dodgers went on to lose the series in six games.

But anyways, let bygones be bygones. Joe Kelly has implemented himself as one of the hardest throwing relievers in the game of baseball. Both him and Nathan Eovaldi, alongside Kimbrel, shut down everyone in their way as they made their run to a World Series championship. At six foot one inch, Kelly doesn’t have much meat to his bones, weighing in at just 190 pounds. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2012 Cardinals 69.3% (94.4) 14.2% (81.4) 3.8% (79.3) 12.7% (84.6) 0.3%
2013 Cardinals 67.0% (94.9) 10.6% (83.5) 8.2% (78.0) 14.2% (84.8) 0.8%
2014 2 Teams 65.7% (94.7) 5.6% (86.4) 17.4% (79.1) 11.3% (83.9) 0.1%
2015 Red Sox 65.6% (95.4) 14.0% (85.8) 9.4% (79.6) 11.1% (84.9)
2016 Red Sox 65.8% (96.3) 15.0% (87.8) 13.4% (82.6) 5.8% (85.2)
2017 Red Sox 63.8% (99.0) 14.8% (89.6) 19.0% (84.1) 2.3% (86.3) 0.1%
2018 Red Sox 55.4% (98.1) 14.9% (88.0) 18.6% (84.4) 11.1% (87.7)
Total – – – 65.1% (95.7) 12.4% (85.6) 11.7% (81.1) 10.7% (85.1) 0.2%

Another upside to Joe Kelly is knowing he can give you more than just one inning if needed. Joe Kelly is a former starting pitcher back in his days with St. Louis.

The 2018 season was Kelly’s 4th with the Boston Red Sox. As you can see from the table above, his fastball has increased drastically as the years go on. Now at thirty years old, Joe Kelly is throwing as hard as he has in his entire career. His two breaking balls, slider, and curveball also play a huge impact on how he deals with certain hitters. His season ERA of 4.39 may throw some teams off, but Kelly is one of the better relievers on the market this offseason.

Oh by the way, Scott Van Slyke won the stand-off with Joe Kelly.

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Written by Tyler Hawk

Currently living in Central California. Life-long Dodgers and Chargers fan.

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