In Saturday’s column, we took a look around the farm system of the Dodgers and outlined a handful of potential pitchers the club could conceivably utilize for the stretch run of the regular season. But while there’s a good chance the Dodgers do indeed call on one of the youngsters we mentioned, it still doesn’t solve the team’s problem of not having a reliable lefty relief specialist.
As a matter of fact, there are only three southpaw pitchers on Triple-A Oklahoma City’s entire active roster — Jeremy Bleich, Justin Marks and Edward Paredes. The 30-year-old Parades, claimed by the Dodgers from the Tigers in last winter’s Rule 5 Draft, just arrived from Double-A Tulsa where he posted a 2.81 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 32 innings of work. Bleich has been decent across two levels since being signed as a minor league free agent back in April, and Marks, who was snatched off waivers from the Rays in May, has already seen his ERA escalate north of 5.00 since donning an OKC uniform. Beyond the aforementioned trio, there’s no other left-handers who really stands out at Tulsa or High-A Rancho Cucamonga at this point in the season. Needless to say, the current minor league options for lefty relievers in the Dodgers system is not appealing in the least.
Entering the 2017 regular season, the management crew of the Dodgers thought for certain that one or more of Grant Dayton, Luis Avilan or Adam Liberatore would settle into the Los Angeles bullpen as a trustworthy southpaw specialist as the campaign progressed. Liberatore still has a long road of rehab ahead of him for his damaged left forearm, and Dayton is still fighting his way through a stint on the disabled list with a stiff neck. Even when both were healthy earlier in the year, neither has lived up to the expectations that management has originally hoped for. Avilan has showed a few bright spots, but has been very erratic at times, as indicated by his 1.62 WHIP and 4.07 ERA. With August quickly approaching, there may not be enough time to wait for any of the three to return to true form.
As far as what’s thought to be available in the market, Andy highlighted a few options in her column on Friday, most specifically Zach Britton of the Orioles and Justin Wilson of the Tigers. Either would be a fine addition to the club, both for the present and future, as both have very effective numbers and team-friendly contracts. Sean Doolittle of Oakland would also have been a potentially solid fit; however, the lefty was snagged in a package deal by the Nationals on Sunday morning which also included veteran righty reliever Ryan Madson. A few other names who have surfaced as possible fits for Los Angeles are Brad Hand of the Padres, Tony Watson of the Pirates and Tony Cingrani of the Reds.
In the end, it’s certainly not mandatory that the Dodgers add a lefty reliever as the playoffs draw closer, but a move would certainly bolster the club’s chances of success in the postseason, especially considering how much stronger the Nationals just got over the weekend.
And while the Nationals seemingly netted Doolittle and Madson in a steal of a deal, rival clubs are well aware of the wealth of prospects in the Dodgers system, and are likely to begin any type of bargaining on the high side, especially in the case of Britton. Either way, there’s exactly two weeks left to make non-waiver trades, and there are plenty of eyes on the Dodgers just waiting to see if they pull off something big.
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