Dodgers Need More Innings From Their Starters, Balance, and Effective Middle Relievers

Josh Fields

I’ve always been a huge supporter of common sense. Logic should be very important for any baseball club. I especially want the Dodgers to use their common sense. I usually strive to do it in my everyday life. Unfortunately MLB clubs sometimes break this rule. The Dodgers seem to be doing this a lot lately.

Common sense says that by not getting enough innings from your starting rotation you can and will put too much stress on your bullpen. Basic logic would dictate that if you use eight relievers per game that eventually some or a few will get tired, or get hurt. The Dodgers are in trouble because they’ve already blown out the majority of their middle relievers and we’re only in July.

Once again as I have decried on this blog for several years now, if you use your bullpen for five plus innings every single night that one or two or more of your prized middle relievers will blow their arms out soon enough. It’s a poor strategy that can only lead to failure and disabled list trips for many of your relievers.

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If we look at the Dodger’s innings usage we can see a familiar pattern. The Dodgers rank 28 out of the 30 clubs in innings pitched from their starting pitchers. The Dodger starters have provided just 431 innings. Meanwhile the Dodger relievers have logged the second most innings in the National League and the third most in the majors with 323.1 frames. The Dodger starters have registered only about 108 more innings that the relievers have. That means the Dodger starters are averaging only a little over five innings per start and that is a recipe for disaster.

You may think this bullpen heavy usage and short outings from the starters is a good idea and the future of baseball. If you do then hey who am I to burst your bubble? But the facts are the facts. Once again I am merely reporting and not making this stuff up. As a result of their heavy bullpen usage the Dodgers have not one, not two, but three middle relievers on the disabled list with fatigued arms or shoulder problems.

I’ll say it again, facts are the facts. Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields are all currently on the disabled list with uncertain timetables for returns. Baez has right biceps tendinitis and his arm is very sore. He threw a bullpen session on June 30 but the Dodgers don’t know when he’ll be ready to come back. Cingrani is reported to have a rotator cuff strain. He’s also suffered from dead arm earlier in the season as well. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session too, but who knows when he’ll be activated. Fields had right shoulder inflammation and was reportedly ready to be activated on June 30, but has not been yet.

The bridge to closer Kenley Jansen has never been more rickety. Right now the Dodgers are using Scott Alexander and Erik Goeddel as their seventh and eighth inning guys. Both of them are pretty bad with Alexander being atrocious all season long. If your bullpen consists of ineffective middle relievers then you’re going to lose a lot of games.

With the middle relief corp so unreliable, the Dodgers have been reportedly discussing some trade options with the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers are said to be eyeballing three relievers, right handers Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, and left hander Adam Conley. The Marlins are terrible and have no use or need for any of those guys mentioned above this season due to them being eliminated from the playoff race around opening day.

The lone saving grace for the Dodgers is that their starting rotation is finally getting healthy. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda are all back almost fully recovered from their respective injuries. Walker Buehler is working his way back and hopefully will take the mound at Dodger Stadium as soon as possible.

I understand that the game changes and the Dodgers are big believers in taking a starting pitcher out before they face the opposing batting order a third time. Numbers say that most starters (not all) are less effective later in the game. But common sense also says that you should find a balance or suffer the consequences. The bullpen can’t pitch 5-6 innings every game. Otherwise guys start to get hurt, tired or ineffective. The Dodgers have 1…2…3 middle relievers on the disabled list.

The Dodgers need more innings from the starters. They need healthier and more effective relievers and they need a balance between the starters and the bullpen. If they can’t find this soon then they may earn an early and lengthy winter vacation.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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6 thoughts on “Dodgers Need More Innings From Their Starters, Balance, and Effective Middle Relievers

  1. The Dodgers need more than that. They need their hitters to get a whole hell of a lot better at hitting with runners in scoring position. They need to get rid of some dead weight, I.E. Logan Forsythe who has nothing short of a total disaster his entire time with the Dodgers. There defense needs to be better than it has been lately. And they really need either one or both of their catchers to start hitting the damn ball. Like Badger and I have consistently stated since spring, this team has multiple holes and weakness’s. And expecting FAZ to do something to fix it before it gets out of hand is not exactly a good thing. If Muncy keeps up playing like he has been, he should be in the lineup more often than not. We know DR is going to give Kemp a rest now and then and since Pederson has been pretty consistent the last month or so, he is a capable replacement on those off days. But I still believe they need a solid middle of the order bat to go along with a couple of solid relievers. They got the relievers last year. FAZ needs to do that again.

    1. If Taylor would get hot and hit like he did last year it would help a lot. I sure would like to see more consistency. If we can do to the good teams what we’re doing to the Pirates tonight we might be ok. But, I’m not wavering from my “pitching” mantra. I think we need more better relievers and I think we need a few of them. We don’t know if Urias and Ryu will help later, but if they do, and Buehler is ok, we may get byeithout adding a starter. But…. will we get by the Cubs in a 7 game series?

  2. What a night by the Dodgers and Kemp. Kemp 5 for 5, 4 runs, 4 RBIs, average back up to .323 and the Dodgers have 17 runs in the 7th inning. WOW!

  3. If he keeps this up, I will call him elite! Let’s hope this is another wake up call for the bats. Every starter had a hit and they gave Wood the run support to get him to .500. 4 wins in a row for him.

    What Muncy is doing is very difficult for any player coming up with no track record or sign of what kind of player he is under his belt. This guy stands in and delivers. Shockingly! In 2 years with Oakland, he had 5 HR’s and 17rbi’s. He still has less AB’s with the Dodgers than he had in 2 years with Oakland. Can he pitch, too? lol.

  4. Scott,

    I know we differ in our views of the pitching. But let’s look at this a little closer. Baez was no one’s favorite and most of us were calling for his head for the last couple of years. No great loss to me that he is not with the team

    Cingrani was hurt before the relievers were called upon for extra curricular activity and has never regained his health

    Fields is a mystery to me, still. I don’t really know who or what he really is. Roberts has his shuttled into a game any old way because he was never used consistently as the bridge to Kenley.

    Perhaps these kinds of pitchers are not what the Dodgers need as relievers. Maybe they are too weak, conditioned poorly, bad diets, domestic problems, who knows. All I know is if you shop in the garbage bin you get garbage. Occasionally you will get a perfectly good item. The Dodgers need to evaluate, select, and hone their relievers to pick up more of the innings than is traditionally called for. This takes the pressure off of starters (who seem to be always hurt on this team) and the financial drain they put on the rest of the team which could be used to find more solid bats. Is Hill worth $16mill? Kershaw $35mill? They don’t produce enough for the money they are paid. I don’t like the model. It’s too fixed in time. They simply need healthier pitchers. They are out there and FAZ knows who they are. But if you keep throwing big money at starters, you limit yourself eventually. Look at the monsters Washington has on its starting rotation. They haven’t won anything yet. It’s about balance and relentless conditioning to maintain longevity. The career of a baseball player is not that long, or most athletes for that matter. You want millions, you have to rise to a higher standard of skill and health. My 2cents.

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