Dodgers’ Bullpen Desperate for a Talent Infusion

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(Photo Credit: Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

If there’s any conceivable way the management crew of the Dodgers can pull off a quality waiver trade to bolster the bullpen before the end of the August, all options should be considered, regardless of a hefty price tag.

Granted, Coors Field is the worst measuring stick in the world to gauge the effectiveness of any squad’s relief corps, but after seeing a few of the advanced stats on paper coupled with the individual success rate of certain players in the past, the forecast for the next several weeks can easily be considered a bit gloomy.

Of course, the biggest blow came when stalwarts Adam Liberatore and Louis Coleman were placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Coleman’s 50 relief appearances are second on the club only to Joe Blanton, while Liberatore’s 44 games rank right in the top five of the Dodgers’ most utilized relievers. Liberatore’s numbers are nothing short of phenomenal — his 1.62 ERA, 2.15 FIP and 0.99 WHIP are very reminiscent of Hung-Chih Kuo‘s dream season in 2010.

In an attempt to upgrade, the front office crew made a few moves before the non-waiver deadline, most specifically adding Jesse Chavez and Josh Fields, however, career bullpen ERAs of 4.55 and 4.53 respectively certainly don’t provide any sense of optimism in the least.

The trip to Denver hasn’t shown any mercy on the Dodgers’ starting staff, either. Rookie Brock Stewart was called upon for a spot-start on Wednesday to provide an extra day of rest for the regular rotation, only to surrender five earned runs in the first frame and nine earned runs total in a disappointing four-inning outing. Just one day prior, starter Brandon McCarthy threw 85 pitches while only managing to survive three full innings after surrendering a whopping five walks and three runs, two of which were earned.

Rookie southpaw Julio Urias was one of several additions to the roster before Wednesday’s contest, this time as a bullpen piece, and skipper Dave Roberts showed no hesitation in throwing him into the fiery massacre at the point of no return. Urias would end up being tortured for six hits and three runs in three full innings of work, despite not having his athletic goggles and not being able to discern the signals from battery mate A.J. Ellis.

It’s tough to believe that Roberts would have inserted Urias into the game knowing that he was unable to see clearly 60 feet, 6 inches in front of him. Regardless, Urias and Ellis quickly devised some sort of alternate system, and the 19-year-old lefty pitched through the dilemma. And Roberts explained that it was times like these that will only benefit the youngsters in the future.

“It’s not easy, it’s tough on everyone,” Roberts said. “These guys come up and are thrown into the fire and are doing the best they can. So at this point, you’re trying to get their feet wet, but where we’re at we’re really trying to win baseball games. I’ve got to be sensitive to their usage, trying to get them broken in a little bit, not to beat up our bullpen, but we’re still trying to win baseball games. It’s definitely a balance, but I think the experience these young players are getting will help them moving forward.”

On a brighter note, the same day he was reinstated from the restricted list, reliever Josh Ravin got his arm loose and ended up having a very impressive appearance for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Although they’re not seasoned veterans by any means, having relief arms such as Ravin, Grant Dayton and Ross Stripling ready and available on the farm may require management to do some roster shuffling, perhaps trying to mix and match until Coleman and Liberatore return to provide some much needed stability.

Despite having 55 games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Dodgers can ill afford to fall too far behind in the divisional and Wild Card races, especially with a starting rotation and bullpen having so many question marks and missing pieces.

 

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