Middle relief is important. No matter what the stat people tell you. Don’t believe the hype. Nothing will sink a baseball team faster than poor relief pitching. I’ve been watching baseball for a long time and I’ve seen far too many competitive Dodger teams collapse due to lousy middle relief. I know it is super early in the season but so far the Dodger’s middle relief has been horrific. The Dodger bullpen has been a disaster of epic proportions and Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Giants was another horrendous outing.
Surely you can build a solid bullpen with cheap controllable pitchers but those pitchers have to you know….. actually be good. You don’t have to sign Criag Kimbrel for 250 million dollars but you do have to have talent in the pen. Right now the Dodgers have very little of that.
To be fair nobody thought free agent signee Joe Kelly would be this bad early on. But the problem is that the rest of the guys aren’t very good either. The bridge to Kenly Jansen has never been shakier. It’s not all Kelly’s fault.
Right now left hander Caleb Ferguson is the Dodger’s most reliable option (besides Kenley) and the next best choice is Dylan Floro. The rest of the guys don’t belong in the majors right now. The Dodgers designated for assignment and then released Josh Fields during spring training and I don’t understand why. Fields may have had some home run problems at times but he was a solid reliever. He was a guy that could come in and miss bats. That’s something the Dodgers could use right about now.
When Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill come back I’m guessing Julio Urias and Ross Stripling get moved to the bullpen. That should help, bumping two of the lackluster relievers either to Oklahoma City or to DFA land. Addition by subtraction here will certainly improve the situation, but some major restructuring is needed. Unfortunately the Dodgers have little to no help on the way right now.
The Dodgers have a few talented pitchers in the minors, but they’re all starting pitchers. Putting them in the bullpen might stunt their development. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are intriguing prospects with good stuff, but both of them still have work to do down on the farm. Besides we may not see either of them until rosters expand in September anyways. Flame thrower Stetson Allie can throw upwards of 100 MPH, but needs to work on his command. Dennis Santana is another starter that could provide some innings but should probably keep getting reps in the minors.
After those four hurlers the options become less appealing. There’s Kevin Quackenbush and newly signed Justin Grimm ready to step up. Left handers Donnie Hart and Adam McCreery are two additional unknown relievers that could be unsung heroes or equally as bad as the rest of the sorry arms currently on the roster. Tony Cingrani is a good pitcher but he’s never healthy. Would they be any better than what we have now? That’s a fair question. Although I can’t imagine any of them being worse.
I’m not sure how much of this we can blame on Dave Roberts because he just doesn’t have anybody to go to. The real fault lies with the upper management. This is an organizational flaw, not a Roberts flaw. For a team like the Dodgers that relies heavily on their bullpen and use game plans that revolve around using 8 relievers every single night should probably have better relief pitchers to deploy.
Kelly obviously isn’t going anywhere, so my guess is that once Kershaw and Hill return Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia get sent down (Garcia is actually out of options so he would have to be Designated) to Oklahoma City. Neither of them are very good right now and Pedro Baez has been shaky at best. Scott Alexander who was unreliable last season looks just as unreliable.
The problem is that management seems to not put much value on relief pitching. But as I have decried on this blog for several years now, Talent, innings and efficient usage of the bullpen count. That’s something that will never change.
A strong properly used bullpen with solid middle relief wins baseball games. I know it’s only five games into the season and you probably think I’m just complaining too much. But we’ve seen this so many times before. I’ve seen this too many times before. Sorry guys but the Dodger bullpen sucks and it’s not going to magically fix itself.