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Dodgers Proving Middle Relief is Important, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

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.

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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.

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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.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

10 thoughts on “Dodgers Proving Middle Relief is Important, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

  1. Baez rebounded some last night. 2 scoreless innings. Kelly is throwing cookies up there. Yimi was nails in spring, so he will be around for a little while. My guess is that they go to a six man rotation when CK gets back to save wear and tear on the starters. They signed reliever Zack McAllister to a contract yesterday. The former Indian was cut by Texas at the end of spring even though he had a decent spring. He is 31 and a couple of years removed from being pretty good for the tribe. A lot of this one is on the offense though. 2 runs is not getting it done. Kershaw has a rehab start in OKC this week. Giants traded for Pillar from the Jays and sent 3 players for him.

  2. Another great performance by our young starting pitchers. Stripling and Urias stepped up and carried the baton, while Kershaw and Hill sit hopelessly on the IL.

    But, another pitcher pulled too soon, banking on the middle relievers to carry them through to Jansen. The Dodgers have to let these kids go longer…. don’t just pull them because they “think” they are out of gas, or they want to save their arms. What are they saving them for? Another quality start, wasted at the hands of Kelley and/or Baez. Kelley is a Dodger killer, both pitching for and against. Other than the Dodgers, he was nothing more then a below average reliever. As far as Baez, he should have been gone 3 years ago. Dodgers had optioned him back to the minors, and released him, only to pick him back up. Dumb decision.

    The dreaded “lefty lineup” did not help matters. When will management realize that this lefty/righty platoon lineup does not work. The Gnats’ junk ball pitcher stymied the Dodger bats… what a joke. The Gnats are throwing two more lefties out on the bump the next two games…. will the Dodgers continue to turn to the “lifeless lefty lineup” again? Bochy is putting Roberts to the test. Hot bat Pederson will cool off if he sits too long.

    Come on, Doyers?‍♂️

  3. Bleh game.

    Don’t over-react, it’s five games. There’s as much chance as my getting Minor League Roster predictions correct as there is the Dodgers starting the clock on a prospect to shore up middle relief.

    1. Come on Bluto,

      Not just five games. This has been going on they past three years.

      …. seriously?

    2. Not sure which prospect you’re talking about Bluto, but Stewart, Yimi, and Alexander all suck. Nothing will change that they suck. There might be hope for Kelly, maybe.

      1. @BlueFan, for years the bullpen has been above average. No reason it won’t be again.

        They’ll be fine Scott. If not all of them, then 3/4.

        Don’t be daft.

  4. You said it Scott,

    Middle relief has been their Achilles Heel for quite some time now. If they are going condition their starters to just go 5-6 innings or less than 80 pitches, then they better find (or groom) a reliable middle reliever. The way it is now, a strong 7 inning starter on the Dodgers is a rare. Dodger bullpen is structured for “so-called” lefty/righty” specialists. Expecting a couple of rubber arms to go 2 innings is asking way too much. Starters and relievers are poorly conditioned.

  5. Well I am glad they let Ryu pitch, because if our bullpen is this bad this early, just imagine how much worse they would be when they are really tired and struggling from overuse ….

  6. Yeah Yueh,

    Ryu pitched a fine 7 innings. Just one mitake to the Bum. Definitely acquality start.

    Relievers, including Jansen, wanted to give it up AGAIN, but the Seager/Kiké middle infield tandem saved the day.

    If Kiké keeps it up, we may see Seager and Kiké starting as All-Stars. Kiké woorked hard, and definitely earned his promotion to everyday 2B-man.

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