Among the minds of many fans of the Dodgers, there seems to be the speculation that there are quite a few auditions currently being held for spots on the prospective NLDS roster. Yet, outside of perhaps one or two last minute decisions, the roster is probably close to being solidified—at least in the eyes of the management crew. One of the final contemplations, however, will be trying to figure out how to put the finishing touches on the bullpen, which could very well boil down to the inclusion of either Kenta Maeda or Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Before we begin throwing out each pitcher’s respective trends and statistics over the past few seasons, let’s start out by drawing a few conclusions about the playoff bullpen, at least for the version that will be selected for the NLDS.
Based on a tendency that’s been prevalent most of the year, there’s a good chance the Dodgers will choose eight relievers for the playoff crew, so that’s as good of a starting point as any. And we know that Kenley Jansen and Brandon Morrow are definite locks. Tony Watson and Josh Fields are about as close to being locks as they come, while Luis Avilan is still on the inside track to seeing postseason action. Tony Cingrani and Ross Stripling may be close to the bubble, but all signs right now are pointing to both of them earning spots.
So that takes care of seven of our eight anticipated spots. After Tuesday night’s debacle, there’s no chance that Pedro Baez is included, as his arm has just about fully died. Despite a few glimpses of promise in September, Walker Buehler won’t be on the roster, either. Brock Stewart has been mediocre at best, as he still can’t seem to get the bite on his slider that impressed the coaching staff last year. Both Josh Ravin and Wilmer Font have been less than stellar, and have no chances at all. And as far as Edward Paredes goes, he’s definitely shown some potential, but he’s likely out of the mix because of the presence of the three left-handers in Watson, Avilan and Cingrani.
All that being said, the final bullpen spot may come down to Maeda and Ryu, but based on the overabundance of southpaws already, Ryu could get the short end of the stick. Theoretically, he would make a fine long man, however, there’s really not room on a playoff roster for multiple swing men. The Dodgers need arms that are strong and that can get opposing players out—swiftly and convincingly.
Getting back to the statistical side of things, a few of the general numbers for the season favor Ryu, as he’s better than Maeda in WAR—1.7 to 0.6—while also having a better ERA—3.46 to 4.21. Maeda, on the other hand, has slightly better WHIP, K/9 and FIP marks. Maeda’s 9.4 K/9 would certainly come in a bit handy, especially when considering scenarios where there are inherited baserunners in play.
Both Maeda and Ryu have made relief appearances earlier this year. Maeda made two appearances tallying five full innings, while Ryu made one long appearance which lasted an even four innings.
Manager Dave Roberts stated after Tuesday evening’s contest in Philadelphia that both pitchers could be shifting back to the bullpen over the coming days for an audition of sorts, but as it stands at the present moment, Maeda would appear to have the edge, mainly because of the excess number of southpaws already in the mix.
Please be sure to check back on Thursday morning, as we plan on revealing our first crack at the full 25-man roster for the NLDS.
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