As we have already taken a look at possible upgrades for both the offensive and starting pitching departments of the Dodgers last week, we thought it’s probably also a good time to analyze at the club’s bullpen needs with less than six weeks before the non-waiver trade deadline.
As far as the starting rotation goes, we’ve discussed the concept of it not being really wise to sacrifice much for an arm unless the incoming pitcher was classified an elite, top-of-the-rotation difference maker. The Dodgers are already loaded with mediocre starters, and it wouldn’t make much sense to trade away prospects to add another ordinary pitcher. However, the bullpen can certainly be viewed as a very different animal.
After being lights out for the first stages of the 2017 campaign, both Ross Stripling and Josh Fields have apparently approached the edge of overuse and fatigue. Stripling’s ERA ballooned to 4.00 before he was relegated to Triple-A Oklahoma City for a presumed resting period, while Field’s ERA escalated past the 3.00 mark before he himself was optioned.
Fields, along with journeyman righty Jesse Chavez, were added at last year’s deadline, right around the time stalwart Joe Blanton began running out of gas and the right arm of sidewinder Louis Coleman almost fell off from overuse. And just like last year, the Dodgers 2017 relief corps is also filled with several mediocre arms, but the ease of demoting some of the pitchers is a bit difficult, basically because more than a handful do not have any options remaining on their respective contracts.
As far as locks go down the stretch run of the year, just about anybody not named Kenley Jansen or Pedro Baez could conceivably find themselves looking from the outside in, as the Dodgers are very likely to make some type of an upgrade, as long as they can find a suitable fit for the right price.
A few of the speculated top relief arms on the market right now include, David Robertson of the White Sox, Kelvin Herrera of the Royals and Tony Watson of the Pirates — all of whom would make outstanding complimentary pieces to both Kenley and Baez. While Watson is the heart and soul of the Bucs’ current relief corps, Pittsburgh has been known to move relievers as they approach their initial entries into free agency. Herrera — if the Royals even consider a deal — will not come cheaply, as the 27-year-old righty still has another year of team control. Robertson would be more of a salary dump for Chicago, and it could be unwise for the Dodgers to pursue the veteran right-hander, considering he’s owed a total of $12 million this year and a guaranteed $13 million in 2018.
All that being said, perhaps one of the best potential upgrades could be righty Brandon Morrow, who is currently wading in the depths of Triple-A ball. Before being optioned almost two weeks ago, Morrow fired six shutout innings for the Dodgers in relief, allowing only two hits over five appearances while striking out seven batters and walking one. From the looks of things, Morrow appears to have returned to good health; and his velocity is also there, often being clocked as high as 97 MPH with his four-seam.
Another name that we have been mentioning quite frequently lately is Joe Broussard, who since being promoted to OKC in mid-April, has thrown 25-1/3 innings over 19 appearances, tallying a 1.42 ERA with 32 punchouts and only seven walks. But while Broussard may currently have the most electric stuff on the farm, he’s not yet on the 40-man roster, which could theoretically impact the possibility of a big league debut.
In the end, while there are a few arms out there who could prove to be useful for the Dodgers, any prospective trades surely depend on the pieces that the other teams desire in return. And while skipper Dave Roberts and Rick Honeycutt have been masterful so far with their strategies and tactics in usage, last season’s meltdown of a number of arms suggest that an upgrade or two may be the most beneificial route to take when the deadline nears.
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