The Dodgers had quite the weekend in Milwaukee, taking three of four games against the Brewers, including Sunday’s finale which they won in dramatic fashion.
It wouldn’t have been so dramatic had the bullpen been able to hold a three-run lead the Dodgers had heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Pedro Baez allowed two baserunners, and Kenley Jansen was brought in for the four-out save. Instead, he gave up a game-tying, three-run homer to Eric Thames. Cody Bellinger ultimately ended up homering off of Brewers’ closer Josh Hader, and Kenley threw a perfect ninth to secure the win.
Last Friday, we discussed how the starting pitching was in good shape going forward. But the bullpen is not quite as strong at the moment.
Or, it is more accurate to say, just some parts of the bullpen are not quite strong at the moments? Scott Alexander has been solid in 13 games so far, working 9.1 innings and has allowed only seven hits and one earned run, and that earned run game in St. Louis when no one could pitch. Dylan Floro has been phenomenal so far, working 10.2 innings and not allowing a single run. He also pitched 2.1 innings of relief in a game against those same Cardinals. He has scattered eight hits across his 10 relief appearances. Despite his bad outing Saturday against the Brewers where he allowed three runs in 0.2 innings, Caleb Ferguson has been pretty decent so far this season.
But after that, the bullpen has not looked great. Including Kenley’s blown save yesterday, he’s allowed two home runs and four earned runs. That obviously doesn’t include the inherited allowed to score, like the two charged to Baez that were collected by Thames’ home run. Baez, for his part, has appeared in 13.2 innings, allowing 10 runs and seven earned runs to score. But that’s not the whole story with him—it really was four bad outings. His eight others were very good.
And last but not least on the list of bad relievers is Joe Kelly. Signed over the winter after he shut down the Dodgers in the World Series, Kelly has had a rough start to his Dodgers career. He has a 9.90 ERA in 10 innings of work. Of his nine appearances, only three were scoreless frames.
Although overall the bullpen has been trending in a better direction, some Dodgers fans are still wondering if Craig Kimbrel would be a good option for Los Angeles. The free agent reliever is still waiting for a team to sign him, but as he was reportedly looking for a six-year deal, with the current market teams were hesitant to sign him for so long.
There are a bunch of issues that signing Kimbrel would bring. How long until he would be ready to pitch in a major league game? Would he be willing to be second to Kenley in command of the bullpen? Conversely, how would Kenley take it if the Dodgers were to sign another closer? And there is also the issue of how Kimbrel has performed in the postseason.
Overall, for now, I am not overly worried about the bullpen. I think some slight changes need to be made, like not bringing in Kenley for four outs, and letting the relievers like Alexander and Floro who are doing well finish their inning, and for Dave Roberts not to be so quick with the lefty-righty matchups. I don’t think signing Kimbrel would be a good idea at this point. It would almost look like a panic move, and might bring more issues than strengths. The upcoming moves of Julio Urías and Ross Stripling joining the bullpen will only serve to strengthen it. There’s time enough to see what happens before the trade deadline to not make any major moves now.
After 17 straight games, the Dodgers are enjoying an off day in Chicago before taking on the Cubs for a three game set. Probable pitchers for Tuesday night’s game are Kenta Maeda and Jose Quintana. Game time will be 5:05 PST.