Dodgers 40-Man Roster: Exploring the Organization’s Bullpen Depth

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We’ve been talking about the prospective Opening Day roster for quite some time now, and there’s no doubt the bullpen is an area of the team which may not be solidified until the final days of camp.

Initially, there was a bit of speculation surrounding the inclusions of Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia on the Dodgers‘ 25-man, but once we found out that Stewart has a fourth option available to him—coupled with the way Garcia has been throwing during Cactus League play—the picture became a bit more clear.

While these choices are by no means 100% locks, here’s what we have so far on the big league roster (assuming an eight-man crew is utilized to open the year):

  • Kenley Jansen
  • Joe Kelly
  • Pedro Baez
  • Dylan Floro
  • Tony Cingrani
  • Scott Alexander
  • Ross Stripling
  • Yimi Garcia

If both Baez and Kelly throw like they did down the stretch of the 2018 season, the Dodgers may have one of the most potent relief crews in the National League—one that even rivals the highly acclaimed Milwaukee bullpen. Obviously, much of the Dodgers’ success will depend on the performance of Jansen, but for the first time in a few years, Los Angeles has a little bit of breathing room in the crew, needing not to depend on Jansen for every single closing scenario.

Of course, Stripling could be jettisoned to the starting rotation without notice—insert your Clayton Kershaw health predictions here—but there are plenty of arms, like Josh Fields for example, who should be ready to jump right into a big league role.

Young lefty Caleb Ferguson, for all intents and purposes, is still being groomed as a starter, so chances are good that he’ll begin the season as the headliner of Triple-A Oklahoma City’s starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts has said there may come a time during the season when Ferguson is needed in the big league bullpen and that the club will not hesitate to utilize him, so we’ll likely see him throw in relief at some point, most specifically towards the end of the year and into the playoffs.

The same can be said for Dennis Santana and Yadier Alvarez. Both are still seen as starters, despite each having the ability to hit triple digits. Santana, by all indications, will be ready to go early. Alvarez, however, was shut down recently, sort of. He’s being examined and monitored closely by staff during a period where he’s making adjustments mechanically.

In the same breath, young righty Josh Sborz has been recently appointed to the 40-man roster, and should be available exclusively as a relief option after being switched back and forth between starting and relieving during his first several years in the system.

Farther down the ladder in the minors, righty Jordan Sheffield is another converted starter who may potentially make some noise in the bullpen.

Joining Fields as legitimate fringe options are JT Chargois, Kevin Quackenbush, Jaime Schultz, and Adam McCreery. It may be worth mentioning that the entire quartet has options aside from Quackenbush, which seemingly gives the club added roster flexibility. Quackenbush is not on the 40-man roster, so it will not affect his minor league usage unless his contract is eventually purchased by the parent club.

As far as secondary and tertiary depth goes, guys like Shea Spitzbarth and Joe Broussard are still around, as are Stetson Allie, Josh Smoker and Jesen Therrien.

Additionally, veterans Justin De Fratus, Daniel Corcino and J.D. Martin—despite making livings as starters— could always make enough noise to garner consideration for the big league bullpen. Corcino had his contract purchased last June and made three appearances for the big league squad last June. The 31-year-old De Fratus was named to the Texas League All-Star team last year as a member of the Tulsa Drillers.

A few of the younger arms who could conceivably emerge in 2019 are Marshall Kasowski, Andre Scrubb and Nolan Long.

 

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14 thoughts on “Dodgers 40-Man Roster: Exploring the Organization’s Bullpen Depth

  1. As of today, and assuming the bullpen is 8 men strong, I agree 100% with your list Dennis. Of course, opening day is still 3 weeks away so guys could get injured. If CK isn’t ready on opening day, the obvious choice would be either Stripling or Urias and if Stripling, someone else would have to step into the bullpen mix. Of the others you mentioned, Fields, Allie and Schultz have all looked good while Sborz, Spitzbarth and Broussard have not. The interesting decision will be where Urias starts the year. I hope they start Santana and Ferguson at OKC as part of the rotation and let them develop as starters. Easier to move a starter to the bullpen than the other way around.

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  2. Alexander and Cingrani need to deliver from the left side to give us an elite bullpen. They both have the stuff to do so but have to throw strikes!

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    1. In the two years Cingrani has been here, strikes have definitely not been a problem (over 13/9 innings) and his walks have also not been a problem (under 3/9 innings). Our only concern with him is the health of his arm. Alexander, on the other hand, needs to work on his control. if he can improve that, he’ll be a great asset because guys hit the ball into the ground off of him when he isn’t walking them.

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  3. The Dodgers web site had pretty much the same BP lineup except they have CK opening the season on the IL, so Strip is in the rotation, and they have Chargois in there instead of Garcia. Jansen is scheduled to pitch in tonight’s game against the tribe, and Hill gets the start.

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  4. That will be an exciting rotation in OKC. Santana, Ferguson, Gonsolin, White and probably Urias to limit his innings. And perhaps May later in the year. It will be interesting to see who emerges as top dog heading into next year.

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    1. He may be there sooner than that if Kershaw goes on the IL.

      I suspect we will see all of those relievers before the year is over. It’s my feeling our starting rotation will need to be relieved early and often.

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      1. The problem with preseason bullpen lists is that by the end of the season at least one on the list will have a FIP of 5 and another one will have a FIP of 2. And we don’t know who will have which. Bullpen speculation is still fun because anything can and everything will happen.

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      2. Good point Hatter. All of these guys will likely get innings. It remains to be seen who will get the most, but the depth charts are being established now. Obviously the preferred rotation has all the familiar names in it – Jansen, Kelly, Baez, Chargois, Alexander, Cingrani, Garcia, Floro …. maybe Ferguson is there again, Stewart, Fields, McCreery. I still use Urias at the ML level. Restriction on innings could be accomplished here. It’s probably more a pitch count restriction than an innings count. If he’s throwing strikes he could get 5 IP with 75 pitches. Not sure how they will handle him but if Kershaw isn’t there I’d rather see Urias than Stripling. I know others aren’t on board with the idea but in my estimation this staff has 6 man written on it. The bullpen, with 1 man short, could be managed with IL manipulations. We’ll see how they handle it but among our starters I see nobody close to 180 innings, let alone 200. Our bullpen may be exhausted by October.

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  5. Scoop, that’s exactly the reason Urias can’t start the year with the Dodgers. If he’s only gonna pitch 4-5 innings depending on pitch count then it will exhaust our bullpen. They need to slow play him in OKC and then bring him up in 2nd half of year and the playoffs. He hasn’t pitched much at all for 2 years so I can’t imagine him throwing more than 130-140 innings

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    1. 140 innings? That’s 5.1 innings 26 times! And you want some of those starts at AAA?

      Not me. If this guy has 26 starts in him I want every one of them where it counts!

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  6. Those innings include 3-4 post season starts and our starters have to go deeper into games this year. A big post season problem we have is that our bullpen has been spent because of regular season overuse

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    1. Early prediction – our starters will not go deeper into games this year. If anything, these guys are going to tire even more quickly. The only possible exceptions I see to that are the young lions in the rotation – Buehler and Urias. And management will likely be protecting those guys. For better or worse we are bullpen driven organization. Our starters will go 5-6 and there will be occasion they don’t even get that. We were middle of the pack in average innings per start by our starters. I see no reason to believe that will get better.

      The way I see it we will win the West with a week to go, and hopefully give our post season starters some extra days off. They will likely need it.

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