Although there are not an overwhelming number of options from which to select, the bullpen of the Dodgers continues to transform as the club pushes through the second quarter of its 2019 campaign.
Initially, we saw a flurry of moves when both Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill returned to the starting rotation after beginning the year on the injured list. Ross Stripling and Julio Urias, who were both throwing very well as starters by any standard, were pushed back into the bullpen, seemingly adding strength to a relief crew which was still searching for its identity. In turn, Brock Stewart and Dennis Santana were able to return to Triple-A Oklahoma City to focus on their respective development as starting pitchers.
Subsequently, the carousel began to spin a bit quicker when more injuries began to occur—most specifically another groin injury to lefty starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. The team dug deep into its fringe depth, giving early season opportunities to other relievers like JT Chargois, Jaime Schultz and Josh Sborz.
Currently, the Dodgers are experiencing another slight transformation as a result of more unexpected circumstances.
If you saw Andy’s column last Friday, you’ll remember when she was anticipating what might happen when both Tony Cingrani and Caleb Ferguson became healthy, speculating on how the bullpen would shape up in the middle weeks of May.
However, because of the situation with Urias, the Dodgers were forced to make a premature move, recalling Chargois immediately after Urias was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday.
It’s absolutely difficult to guess what exactly will happen with Urias, as there are numerous factors the MLB front office will take into consideration when determining the youngster’s punishment. Furthermore, the Dodgers may also decide to impose their own separate punishment which could also have an effect on Urias’ time away from the team. Either way, it’s probably safe for the management crew not to bank on the young southpaw’s return anytime soon.
Skipper Dave Roberts has already indicated that Ferguson will be activated for the first leg of the upcoming road trip beginning in Cincinnati this Friday. It’s also been believed that Scott Alexander has been injured for quite sometime, although he still remains on the squad’s active roster. Alexander originally told reporters that he was having problems with his hamstring, while Roberts thought Alexander’s malady was more hip-related. Whatever the case may be, it’s still unknown if the lefty will try to battle through his problems or be put on the shelf for some recovery time.
What’s more, Cingrani, who has been affected by shoulder problems dating back to last season, continues to progress and should be called to the big league roster soon. Since May 4, the lefty has made four combined appearances for High-A Rancho and Triple-A OKC, throwing four full innings. He has surrendered no earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four opposing batters.
Although there has been plenty of personnel movement so far, the heart of the Los Angeles bullpen—Kenley Jansen, Dylan Floro and Pedro Baez—will certainly remain unaltered, barring any unforeseen injuries.
And, while he is showing some brief glimpses of getting things together, Joe Kelly continues to search for sustained success. Through 15-1/3 innings over 15 appearances, the hard-throwing righty has allowed 15 earned runs on 24 hits and four walks.