This latest series loss to the Giants has greatly exposed the Dodger’s primary weakness. That weakness is middle relief. I am specifically referring to the lack of a long man in the bullpen. The Dodgers lost to the Giants by a score of 9-6 on Sunday afternoon, losing the series 3-1. Scott Kazmir blew a 5-run Dodger lead within the blink of an eye. He lasted only 4 innings allowing six earned runs on seven hits. The Dodger bullpen then did their thing by allowing three more earned runs and making the problem even worse. The gas can squad was in full effect.
#Dodgers bullpen in this series (so far) — 8 2/3 IP 12 runs 15 hits 5 walks. That's a 12.46 ERA 2.31 WHIP
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 10, 2016
Looking at the Dodger pitching staff, I’ve noticed that it’s very poorly constructed. During the series with the Giants, the Dodger bullpen allowed 12 runs on 15 hits across 8.2 innings pitched. That comes out to a 12.46 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP. Yeah that’s not going to work. You can’t blame first year manager Dave Roberts. He doesn’t have any good options available. The real fault lies with the front office.
This is the main problem I have with the front office. They build terrible pitching staffs. I don’t know why. Is it because of arrogance, or incompetence? Or do they really believe these below average relievers are suddenly going to start pitching like Mariano Rivera. Sorry but that’s just not going to happen.
The brain trust was supposed to fix the problem with the bullpen during the winter and did nothing to address it. As a matter of fact, they made it worse. Their “solution” to the problem was signing mediocre arms like Louis Coleman and Joe Blanton. The rest of the bullpen is the same as last year. Returnees Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, J.P. Howell, and Chris Hatcher haven’t changed at all. Perhaps Garcia has potential to be good one day, but the rest of those guys are horrendous. How do the Dodgers get the ball to Kenley Jansen? That’s the question we ask every year.
The main problem is the lack of a long man, or long reliever. Is that supposed to be Blanton this year? I don’t understand why the Dodgers refuse to use one. The reason a long man is so important is because of games like on Sunday. That game was a perfect example of why the Dodgers need a long man. During a game when a starter struggles, or gets hurt, or is unable to go deep into a game, you need to use a reliever who can give you some innings. Otherwise you end up using one pitcher per inning and burning up your bullpen.
That can be very inefficient bullpen usage. The Dodgers just have a bunch of one and done guys. They need somebody that can give them some innings.
The new excuse I am hearing is to blame pitching coach Rick Honeycutt instead of just admitting that the front office made a huge mistake. Honeycutt has been one of the better pitching coaches in all of baseball during his tenure with the Dodgers. It’s not his fault. Honeycutt can’t turn water into wine. He’s not a magician.
It’s time to face the facts that the front office is just not capable of building a reliable pitching staff or bullpen. The Dodgers didn’t have to go out and buy 7 relievers on the free agent market. All they needed to do was sign 2 reliable middle relievers. I’m Not talking about Coleman or Blanton. Those guys suck. If you are not willing to use the depth in the farm system to address the problem, then you have to acquire arms via free agency or trade.
Now the bullpen is a mess again. It’s bad enough that they only have one left hander. They desperately need a long reliever as well. The Dodgers need 2 or 3 middle relievers, with one preferably being left handed if they are going to compete this season. You can’t win without a bullpen. Until the Dodgers clean up this mess they will continue to lose games.