There’s a good chance the current bullpen of the Dodgers will get a bit of a makeover before playoff time, assuming that the team is indeed able to secure a spot in the 2018 postseason. It could be accomplished by utilizing injured players like Josh Fields, Julio Urias or Hyun-Jin Ryu, or management may be able to find a way to orchestrate a waiver trade before the end of August. Furthermore, there will be a few starting pitchers left over come playoff time, conceivably allowing several arms like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood or even Kenta Maeda to throw in relief down the stretch.
Yet, as it stands now, the bullpen is theoretically the team’s biggest weakness, despite ranking respectably in numerous categories in the National League. If you believe in relief ERA, the Los Angeles crew is ranked right in the middle of the NL pack with a 3.89 mark, while the Diamondbacks and the Cubs’ relief corps are first and second. The Dodgers are fourth in BAA and sixth in OPSA while ranking fifth in WHIP, so things aren’t really as bad as they often seem.
John Axford, the tall, veteran reliever the club picked up before the non-waiver deadline less than a week ago, made his Dodgers debut against the Astros on Saturday evening, and the righty certainly wishes he could have rewritten the entire script. Axford officially recorded just one out in his appearance, while surrendering six earned runs on a hit batsmen, two walks and three hits. His velocity is still there, but instead of primarily using his heater against the World Champion Astros, he seemed like he depended a lot more on his offspeed and breaking arsenal, which were subsequently destroyed. He’ll definitely get better in the weeks to come, but whether or not he’s around for a prospective playoff run remains to be seen.
Southpaw Zac Rosscup, who the Dodgers acquired via the waiver wire from the Rockies earlier in the year, wasn’t much better than Axford on Saturday in mop-up duty. Having just returned from the 10-day disabled list because of a sore finger, Rosscup went 1-2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs, with most of the damage coming on long balls by Josh Reddick and Jake Marisnick. For the year, Rosscup has a 10.13 ERA, a .333 BAA and a 1.88 WHIP over five appearances and 2-2/3 innings of work.
As it stands now, the Dodgers are using a nine-man bullpen as a result of Alex Wood being sent to the disabled list with problems in his groin. That won’t last for long, though, as Ross Stripling is expected to return from the DL to take Wood’s turn in the rotation. The current crew consists of Kenley Jansen, Axford, Rosscup, Pedro Baez, JT Chargois, Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro and Daniel Hudson. Righty Erik Goeddel was placed on the shelf Friday with lat soreness to make room for Axford.
As far as innings go, Jansen is leading the way with 52-1/3, followed by Alexander with 47-2/3 and Hudson with 42-2/3, despite Alexander’s minor league demotion earlier in the season and Hudson not receiving a big league promotion until late April. Baez and Fields are fourth and fifth on the club in innings pitched with marks of 36-2/3 and 34-1/3 frames, respectively.
In terms of relief ERA, Ferguson—not including his numbers as a starter—is leading the club with a 1.29 mark, followed by Jansen at 2.24 and Fields at 2.36. Ferguson also has a stellar WHIP of 0.72 in the bullpen, followed by Jansen at 0.92.
Urias could be the next newest face joining the team’s relief crew, as he made his second rehab appearance on Saturday for the AZL Dodgers. The southpaw struck out four batters and surrendered just one hit in 1-2/3 innings of work.