Considering that the Dodgers were unable to significantly upgrade their bullpen ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July, many folks close to the club believed that a waiver trade was inevitable, especially after Kenley Jansen‘s stint on the disabled list and the inability of anybody else to successfully close out a game. Yet, with the waiver deadline arriving at the end of the week, there hasn’t been much noise indicating that the team is close to completing such a deal.
Maneuvers along the waiver wire have always been relatively quiet and kept under wraps, most specifically those which take place during the month of August. More times than not, fans have no knowledge which players are placed on waivers, mainly because clubs pull them back after they’re unable to compete a deal with another claiming club, if that player is claimed at all. So, with a few days remaining, the front office crew could conceivably be progressing towards a deal unbeknownst to the public.
Along with the deadline for waiver trades, roster expansion will take place on September 1, virtually allowing each club to recall a player who’s a member of the team’s 40-man roster. Initially, the Dodgers were a bit excited for a few of the prospective bullpen moves, as Josh Fields and Julio Urias have been hyped for weeks about bolstering the team’s suspect relief corps. However, the progress of Urias has not gone as expected, and Fields hasn’t found much success in his recent outings, either. That’s not to say Fields has been hindered, as some rehabbing pitchers sometimes stick to a set script of specific pitches, regardless of how the game is going. Nevertheless, Fields, who was initially believed to be ready much sooner, won’t be joining the team until rosters expand on Saturday.
All-star righty Ross Stripling, who was assumed to be rejoining the club before the opener against the Rangers on Tuesday, won’t be activated until Saturday because his back injury hasn’t healed as quickly as many thought. Thus, the club will be getting a little boost with the addition of Stripling and Fields, along with the prospective returns of Erik Goeddel, Zac Rosscup and JT Chargois, in addition to a possible recall of right-hander Brock Stewart.
Furthermore, the Dodgers signed veteran reliever Zach McAllister to a minor league deal on Monday and could theoretically add him to the 40-man roster before the weekend, allowing him to join the big league club after September 1. The 30-year-old righty struggled mightily with the Indians and Tigers this year, but he still has the ability to throw a four-seam in excess of 96 MPH, potentially giving the Dodgers’ coaching staff the chance to mend some of his problems and straighten out his mechanics.
Still, the performance of Jansen since his return from the disabled list has been disappointing, to say the least. There have been rumblings that Jansen attributed his ineffectiveness to drugs he was taking for his heart. He stopped taking the medication on Sunday and said he noticed an improvement; however, the All-Star closer may have looked the worst he has all year in Tuesday’s 8-4 win against the Rangers. He entered the game in the ninth inning with an 8-2 lead and quickly loaded the bases, ultimately surrendering three hits, a walk and two earned runs. Nonetheless, it was the perfect opportunity for him to try and iron out his problems, being that the situation was low-leverage.
Consequently, Jansen told reporters after the game that he expects his performance to improve soon.
“I’ll be all right. At some point, I’ll figure it out. A little amped up today. Command wasn’t there,” he explained. “Listen, people can panic like, ‘Oh God, what’s happening with me,’ but I know myself; I am going to go out there and keep competing and I will get out of this.”
But, until Jansen works out his kinks, a waiver trade could certainly benefit the club, as the team’s best closing option at the moment is right-hander Kenta Maeda, who was a starter for the majority of the season. And that’s not even taking into consideration that a bonafide, eighth-inning option has yet to emerge among anybody in the relief crew.
As good as the current four-game winning streak looks on paper, it has come against two of the worst teams in baseball. Looking back, it wasn’t long ago when just about everyone in the entire bullpen imploded against the Rockies and the Giants during a five-game losing streak. With perhaps the biggest series of the season to date on deck for this weekend, the relief corps just may end up playing a huge role in the outcome.