Dodgers Bullpen: Still No Solutions for an Otherwise Shoddy Relief Crew


Many followers of the Dodgers hoped the addition of veteran reliever Ryan Madson would bolster the team’s relief corps just a little bit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case—at least not yet. Since returning from the DL because of nerve irritation in his lower back, Madson has made four appearances—one for the Nationals (before he was traded) and three for the Dodgers. In 3-1/3 innings of work, the righty has surrendered  five hits (one of which was a long ball) and a walk, resulting in three earned runs. Despite his heater sitting in the 94-95 MPH range, he still hasn’t been able to find any mojo from his former self from a long time ago.

Some believed that Madson could turn into the desired eighth-inning bridge to All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, but there aren’t any remote signs of that happening. Heck, the way Jansen is throwing right now, and considering he’s unable to make this weekend’s trip to Colorado, it’s hard to think that even he would make a decent eighth-inning bridge.

Others had their fingers crossed when the club dealt for another hard-throwing veteran in John Axford, but all he did upon his arrival was give up six earned runs in 3-1/3 innings of his own. Unfortunately, he got stung by a line drive that fractured his right fibula on August 12, and there are still no signs of him recovering to the point of making a comeback this season. According to some reports, he was last seen in the clubhouse walking on crutches earlier this week.

Consequently, righty Daniel Hudson, another thirty-something reliever who has similar stuff to both the aforementioned veterans, was placed back on the shelf with forearm tightness just a week after being reinstated. There haven’t been any recent reports of progression, but considering the nature of the injury, chances may be slim that he’s able to return this year. Even if he’s cleared at some point, his 4.11 ERA, 4.37 FIP and 1.237 WHIP this season aren’t anything to write home about.

To make matters worse, Erik Goeddel is done for the season, as he is still suffering from elbow issues. Righty Brock Stewart is also finished for the year after being diagnosed with a right oblique strain. And there’s currently no news on hard-throwing righty JT Chargois, who was sent to the disabled list on August 22 with nerve issues in his neck.

Yet, with all the bad news, there is still a bit of hope, although the time has passed for the Dodgers being permitted to make any trades. Pedro Baez is throwing well, having surrendered just three hits (no earned runs) over his last 10 appearances while striking out twelve batters. All-Star Ross Stripling appears to be set to return to the bullpen and will be activated for the opener in Denver against the Rockies on Friday. And, many believe Kenta Maeda will find some sort of groove within his next few chances.

Nevertheless, despite the small shred of hope, the relief crew is perhaps the team’s biggest concern as the final stretch of the regular season winds down. For everybody’s sake, hopefully Jansen returns to All-Star form and the coaching staff can find one or two current members of the squad to set him up successfully. If not, more trouble may definitely be looming.


12 thoughts on “Dodgers Bullpen: Still No Solutions for an Otherwise Shoddy Relief Crew

  1. This is a real sad and ineffective pen of any sort. It is more of a sick call dispensary handing out aspirins rather than pink slips.

      1. It looks to me like a continuation of the pattern established by Friedman since his arrival four years ago. He’s been shopping the bargain racks the entire time. Some have worked. Many have not.

        The Dodgers have enough to win. But the offense must be better. 4 runs in Colorado, and 2 for 14 WRISP, is a dangerous way to get it done.

      2. The front office believes that relievers are such a crap shoot in terms of being good for multiple years that you might as well spend next to nothing and that way when they don’t work out you don’t beat yourself up over it. I would be very surprised, however, between Kenley’s situation and being under the limit this year, if they don’t acquire at least one established way-above-average guy as back up closer and/or eighth inning guy this winter. The strange thing is that they’ve been willing to spend on the offense and that has been as inconsistent and often ineffective as the bullpen. As I watch this team, it certainly doesn’t seem capable of winning a World Series this year, even if we ultimately win the division. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. I believe they anticipated more arms available at this point Jeff. A few weeks ago Friedman said he thought the bullpen would be a strength going forward. Looking at who was due back I believed him. Some key arms just didn’t make it back. The price you sometimes pay when you buy used parts.

    1. With the exception of Cingrani, I’m not exactly sure which key arms aren’t available right now. If they were actually counting on Urias to play an important role in relief, they were taking a very big gamble. Shoulder surgeries are very unpredictable. Assuming that Urias ever comes back to the old Urias we knew and loved, I don’t expect to see that quality until 2020. Chargois, Goeddel, Hudson? Decent spare parts at times, but I wouldn’t classify them as key arms. Who am I forgetting? This is why I expect them to buy at least one bullpen arm at Nordstroms this winter instead of continuing to do all their shopping at TJ Maxx.

      1. I did forget to mention Axford and Fields, but Axford had pitched so badly this year that I think getting him was just an attempt at buying a lottery ticket. That said, sometimes lottery tickets turn out to be big winners. Fields is another guy who pitches well most of the time and then when you really start depending on him he goes south for a few games. This is why they need to spend on an established elite guy this winter, understanding full well that it might blow up in their face, because that’s just how it is. They’ll have the money to at least roll the dice this off season. I really hope they do it. We also have an excess of major league caliber outfielders and need a strong reliever. Need, meet opportunity.

      2. I advocated building a strong bullpen over the last 4-5 winters, yet Friedman continued to stick to his old stubborn philosophy of building from within mixed with a few reclamation projects.

      3. As we have all surmised, we here at TBPC know far more than Friedman and friends, yet they continue to make the big bucks and we sit here yelling at them. The world is so incredibly unfair.

      4. Many years ago, seeking employment in the organization, I sent my résumé to Collett; however, I never even got any type of response acknowledging receipt or thanking me. His loss.

      5. Never cross Schlossman. Look what you did to him. Lost his GM job and now he has to pretend he enjoys talking to J-Hair on the tv broadcast every night. Actually Ned isn’t bad as a commentator. Send in another resume and maybe they’ll hire you to replace Hairston. We need to get you out to L.A. so you can spend your nights hanging out at the ballpark.

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