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.