If you missed Saturday’s column, we took a quick moment to look at five players on the Dodgers‘ farm who may be likely to get a call at some point during the 2018 season. By no means was I trying to imply an impending roster move, but after another marathon game when an already taxed bullpen was stretched to the max, coupled with a struggling offense still unable to find a groove, several changes could be coming sooner rather than later.
Prior to Sunday’s contest against at San Francisco, the relief crew has already logged a whopping 34-2/3 innings thrown, as opposed to 44-2/3 from the starting rotation. This is mainly due to two games that went deep into extra innings; however, if this trend were to continue through the next several weeks, there’s no question that reinforcements will be needed.
Through the first eight games, righty swing man Ross Stripling has already logged six full innings of work after making four appearances, but many seem to feel that Wilmer Font is the early iron-man of the relief crew. Font took the loss after throwing 4-1/3 frames in the 15-inning loss to the Diamondbacks on April 2, then was pegged with another on Saturday, after giving up a three-run walkoff shot to Andrew McCutchen in the 14th inning. Font was unable to record an out in Saturday’s affair.
The interesting thing about Font is that he doesn’t have any options on his contract, so a demotion to the minor leagues is out of the question unless he’s outrighted, in which case he’d need to clear waivers to return to the organization. The only other way Font can get bumped from the roster is if he’s placed on the disabled list—a scenario that could very well happen sometime soon, especially if the innings continue to accumulate.
The management crew of the Dodgers was notorious for using the disabled list last season, as it was often suggested that they were a bit liberal when it came to sticking to the rules. Oftentimes, it was utilized to give a player a rest for a few weeks in times of obvious need.
Overhauling the bullpen will not guarantee a spark, though, as the primary blame for the team’s current 2-6 record should definitely be placed on the offense. The bullpen should be fine in the end as there are plenty of options in the system. At this point last season, Sergio Romo and Chris Hatcher were the chief eighth-inning guys, which shows how a relief crew can dynamically evolve over a short period time. Brandon Morrow wasn’t even on the big league radar until June of last year.
As far as the offense goes, nothing seems to be clicking with any type of consistency. Making a roster move won’t necessarily change how the offense performs, but there’s little else a team can do other than riding out the storm. The Dodgers were 10-11 on April 25 of last year when management surprised fans with the promotion of one Cody Bellinger, and we all know how that turned out.
Furthermore, a return by veteran Justin Turner in May isn’t totally out of the question. Turner’s presence in the three-hole should lengthen the lineup a bit, and should have an immediate positive effect. Aside from JT, about the only other move the club may consider over the coming weeks is recalling Andrew Toles, which would likely happen at the expense of either Kyle Farmer or Joc Pederson. Otherwise, the team is on its own in terms of finding its way out of the current stupor.
Another interesting note is that righty Kenta Maeda was shifted to the bullpen over the weekend and was put to use right away on Saturday in the seventh inning against the Giants. Management says the change isn’t permanent, but rather a move to provide relief to the pen after some crazy scheduling glitches provided several days off in a short period of time.
“It takes some give from each one of these guys,” skipper Dave Roberts said Saturday. “For us to have seen Kenta out of the ‘pen helps and to give him the potential to still get his work in. With the off-days and the rain, we’ve got to make some adjustments. It’s not ideal for any of these guys. To be open to some adjustments is what it calls for and fortunately for us, our guys are on board.”
Staff ace Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the club out of their doldrums on Sunday; however, if we see another stretch from the team similar to the first eight games of the season, a few of those prospective roster moves we mentioned may indeed transpire at some point or another.