To say the Dodgers are struggling these days is an understatement. They’re 5-10 in June, have dropped to third place in the National League West Standings and just got destroyed at home by their arch rival Giants. Those same Giants are now ahead of them in the standings. The Bullpen is a disaster, they have a small army of pitchers on the injured list and the rookies are not performing up to expectations. We’ve got a problem guys.
Management continues to give no possible solutions. Manager Dave Roberts makes empty excuses and cliché remarks about execution. Yeah we know the Dodgers have to “be better”. Nobody wants to hear that right now. How about telling us what you plan to do to stop this month long suck? Here’s what I would do to make the Dodgers a little better in the short term. The main problem is the horrible bullpen. The Dodgers have the worst pen in the majors. The relievers are below average, have no command and give up a boatload of home runs. There are two things they can do to make it better. Addition by subtraction, and move a couple of starters into the bullpen.
If Julio Urias is expected back at the end of the month, the Dodgers will have a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Urias, rookies Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Tony Gonsolin. I would move Gonsolin, and call back Michael Grove into the bullpen. Gonsolin can be a high leverage late innings guy. They can do the same with Dustin May if he ever returns this season. Both of them are good pitchers with great stuff but they can’t stay healthy. Neither of them are likely to have long careers in the majors. Both are constantly hurt. Gonsolin especially is fragile with a brittle body. It’s a huge red flag that pitchers this young have already spent this much time on the injured list. Gonzo can barely stay healthy between starts. Gonsolin has had just one season where he tossed more than 55 innings (130 in 2022) and May has never pitched more than 56 frames in the majors. If you can’t pitch more than 60 innings in a season then you are not a starting pitcher, I’m sorry to break it to you.
So let those guys excel as late inning relievers. They have the stuff. Grove can be a bulk/long man/mop-up guy. You DFA three pitchers to make room. Yency Almonte is not a major league pitcher in any way whatsoever. I would actually give him his unconditional release and get him out of the organization. Let another team take a flyer. DFA Nick Robertson, Shelby Miller, and send Alex Vesia back to Oklahoma City. I like Vesia and he’s been a good pitcher in the past. Perhaps his career can still be salvaged with some work in a low pressure environment. The other guys need to go.
You make Evan Phillips your full time closer, and if Daniel Hudson comes back, you have Gonsolin, Hudson and Graterol as your primary high leverage relievers. Caleb Ferguson can be the lefty matchup specialist, and here’s hoping Victor Gonzalez can show the Dodgers anything that resembles actual pitching. Call up Landon Knack to fill the fifth rotation spot. That hopefully gets them to the trade deadline and the front office goes out and picks up two effective relievers and a starter. Don’t tell me nobody is available.
Now for the bats. Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Will Smith are keeping this team afloat. Freeman is exactly the kind of player the Dodgers need to find. He’s never injured. He has a strong athletic body. Smith is one of the best catchers in baseball. Yes I know he’s a Friedman draft pick. (Kudos to Andrew for drafting him). What I love best about Smith is his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. I’m worried that he’s going to wear down because Austin Barnes is so pathetic as a hitter. I appreciate his base hit in game 6 of the 2020 World Series and his solid defense, but the Dodgers can do better than a .108 hitting backup catcher.
Mookie Betts is one of the best players in baseball, but can be a bit streaky sometimes. Here’s what I would do to better the Dodger lineup. Move Mookie permanently to shortstop. Look, Miguel Rojas is atrocious. He’s a worthless hitter and can’t go more than 3 or 4 games in a row without getting hurt. Rojas is a defensive replacement, so use him as such.
I would either send Vargas back to OKC, or send him to the bench. When Max Muncy comes back from the injured list you can move him to second, and let Michael Busch play third. In the outfield, with Mookie at short for the foreseeable future, Jason Heyward can play right field and David Peralta plays left. Both of the vets have hit better than any of the rookies this year. Heyward can still crank the long ball and Peralta has been well. Peralta has also been respectable defensively. I can’t believe I’m even saying this. The Dodgers can keep James Outman at center for now. That leaves Chris Taylor, Barnes, Rojas, and Jonny Deluca on the bench. All of this is health assuming of course.
The Dodgers can’t afford to sit around and wait for some of these guys to magically figure things out. The trade deadline is still 6 weeks away. Let’s make some adjustments, or the Dodgers will end up being buried in the standings and will have to listen to fans like me rage post into the winter.