A little over a week ago, Andy put together a story surrounding a meaningful comment from Dodgers‘ boss Andrew Friedman which stated something to the effect that the club was struggling to click on more than one vital component of its game on a nightly basis.
Friedman absolutely hit the nail on the head. Things certainly changed for the better during the squad’s four-game winning streak over the weekend, and fans even regained confidence that the Dodgers were undoubtedly back in the race for a sixth consecutive division title. It appeared as though several facets of the game were finally beginning to click.
However, the club’s progress reverted to its misfortunes from more than a week ago when nothing at all was gelling together. Monday night was a perfect example as rookie Walker Buehler turned in yet another stellar outing, only to have the bats slumber and the defense let the club down in the late innings.
A lot of fans put the blame directly on the bullpen, but it was just one of those nights when things didn’t work the way the team intended. Cold spells on offense will happen, as we are all well aware. And defensive miscues will indeed occur, normally at times when they’re welcomed least. And even though it wasn’t the final nail in the coffin on Monday, the relief corps contributed to another heart-wrenching loss. The walk to Tony Wolters, he of a .134 batting average, could have been one of the most critical miscues of the game.
“Gets ahead of Wolters, ends up losing him,” skipper Dave Roberts admitted after the game. “That can’t happen. You’ve got to make him beat you with the bat.”
I happen to be a supporter of Pedro Baez, and I believe he has the talent to succeed in the majors, but I think there are just too many aspects of his game that he needs to refine. And I believe the big league stage isn’t the place to make those enhancements, as the righty is often caught in the middle of the club’s late-game collapses. With guys like Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia stashed away at Triple-A Oklahoma City, the club certainly has the resources to demote Baez, not as a punishment, but rather to give him a chance to sharpen his skills.
Furthermore, why Daniel Hudson is still a part of this team, I absolutely have no clue. Because of 40-man roster implications, it’s understandable why guys like Joe Broussard or Josh Sborz haven’t been promoted, but I’ll take Edward Paredes any day of the week over Hudson, who continues to sport an ERA and a FIP north of 5.00, despite a shutout inning on Monday. I don’t think it matters if there’s an excess of left-handers in the pen as long as they’re the best available options in the organization. If the southpaws have the ability to shut down right-handed hitters, then the club will be in a better position to win games.
Why not give hard-throwing righty Dennis Santana a shot of relieving in the bigs? He surely has the talent. We saw it with Buehler last year in the Dodgers’ bullpen in an effort to conserve his innings. Santana’s already on the 40-man, so it wouldn’t entail that much of a roster risk.
Granted, it’s undeniably difficult just to make a few roster moves to improve the landscape of the relief corps. There are very few teams looking to make a trade at this point, and the front office crew of the Dodgers will probably wait until the middle of the summer to decide if it’s willing to sacrifice any of its top prospects to invest in a run at the playoffs. As it stands now, team management is limited to snatching guys off of the waiver wire in attempts to improve what is clearly a substandard unit.
Unfortunately for the fans, the next few weeks represent a time where there’s a lot of waiting to see how things shake out. Maybe Hudson pitches his way off the roster. Or maybe the front office is able to orchestrate an off-the-radar deal to upgrade the club’s relieve crew. Or, perhaps there’s a diamond in the rough in the depths of the farm just waiting to be discovered.
In the meantime, while there are guys like Baez, Hudson, Pat Venditte and Erik Goeddel occupying spots on the big league roster, somebody needs to recognize that there are more than one better options in the minors and arrange those moves—before the bullpen digs the entire team into an even deeper hole.