In the hours before Friday’s contest against American League rival Boston, skipper Dave Roberts of the Dodgers emphasized to reporters how the arrival of A.J. Pollock, Corey Seager and David Freese felt almost like a series of huge acquisitions at the trade deadline.
Indeed, the return of these three players may inject a fresh boost of adrenaline over the long term, but it did no good against the Red Sox in the weekend opener, who victimized the Los Angeles pitching staff, especially right-handers Pedro Baez and JT Chargois in the moments surrounding a brief rain delay.
Truth be told, a stellar bullpen will hardly ever win games when the offense scores a single run, but the relief corps still remains the club’s most glaring weakness, nevertheless.
As far as possible trade candidates go, most of the big names remain on the table. We talked in-depth about Shane Greene of Detroit just last week. If you follow along in the comment section of our stories, you’ll know that our faithful readers bring up Brad Hand of the Indians and Will Smith of the Giants almost daily. Furthermore, throw Ken Giles and Jake Diekman into the mix, and you have about a half-dozen proven arms who could conceivably impact the Dodgers’ bullpen positively in some shape or form.
Yet, like we’ve mentioned so many other times in recent months, front office boss Andrew Friedman has a stern philosophy when it comes to bullpen construction. Friedman generally prefers to build from within, then tends to upgrade with run-of-the mill veterans and reclamation projects throughout the season and near the trade deadlines.
Last year, we saw the addition of John Axford at the non-waiver deadline, and in the final installation of waiver deals, the Dodgers added another veteran righty in Ryan Madson, who was subsequently victimized in the postseason often, specifically when it came to inherited runners scoring.
Throughout the 2018 regular season, the team snagged arms like Erik Goeddel and Zac Rosscup, hoping that the coaching staff could somehow maximize their otherwise mediocre pitching repertoires. Arms like those of Daniel Hudson, Pat Venditte and Edward Paredes were on the big league roster for a good portion of the season, but were just never really good enough to make a huge impact.
Professedly, expectations for the 2019 season are at the highest point they’ve been for quite some time. The offense, when it is operating near its potential, may be among the best in the game. However, for this year’s squad to succeed in the 2019 post season—especially in the World Series—there will definitely need to be a few adjustments made.
Will Friedman finally sacrifice some of his valuable resources to add a few arms in hopes of reconstructing a relief corps which currently ranks in the bottom-half in all of baseball?
We should find out in just a few, short weeks.
At the end of the day, though, if it boils down to the bullpen being the chief cause of an unsuccessful run at a World Championship, fans of the Dodgers will suffer another gut-punch that’s seemingly a bit more unbearable than it has been in recent seasons.