Bullpen Woes Continue as Trade Deadline Approaches


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.

Moving arms like Kenta Maeda or Ross Stripling back to the bullpen is probably not the answer, as simple as it sounds.

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.


38 thoughts on “Bullpen Woes Continue as Trade Deadline Approaches

  1. Jeff Boyd at MLBTR has an interesting column out today about trade candidates. Among relievers mentioned Will Smith is at the top of the list and some intriguing names are toward the middle:

    Ken Giles and Marcos Stroman are rated 4&5. They will be expensive.

    Sam Dyson and Shane Greene are listed at 7&8, Tony Watson and Jake Diekman 10&11, Mychal Givens and Roenis Elias, ranked 17th and NR, are down the list. Boyd also lists Yates as a remote possibility but I doubt the Padres deal him. Zach Wheeler is on the list too, so we could theoretically get him and bump Maeda again.

    So…. choose.

    I really like Smith but have my doubts we deal with Zaidi. Same with Dyson. Greene surfaces as a likely target for obvious reasons. Givens is interesting – 49 strikeouts in 30 innings but 8 home runs and 16 walks. Elias will also be of interest to Friedman as his spin rate is in the 91st percentile and he could be had without giving up much

    Going to be riveting watching this unfold. Friedman will do something. He HAS to do something…. right?

  2. Friedman is a cheapskate who wants something for nothing and has nothing as far as his illustrious bull pen and that includes Jansen too. He seems like a heartless manipulator who will stretch a penny into copper wire. Play them or trade them.

    1. The bullpen is ranked 9th in ERA but with that ERA over 4 and 14 Blown Saves you know something must be done. Friedman has been frugal and I think that is at least partly due to a directive to keep under the cap. But it is true he likes to turn over stones and take chances. My gut tells me this time he will look for the sure thing. My gut has been wrong before… once in ‘66 and again in ‘78. I’ll spare you the details.

      1. I think it’s tough to effectively rank a relief crew based on ERA, mainly because relievers are never credited with the inherited runners they allow to score.

    2. If we get to the show again this year and lose because of the middle relief issue, fans won’t be disappointed, we will be furious. Not to mention being laughed at for getting there and losing…again. I already have friends who call us “The chokers”. The offense can only carry us so far! One can only hope Friedman will come to his senses by the trade deadline!

      1. Well, I can understand the fans frustration, but you have to win a lot of games just to get there. And in this day and age it is just not that easy because you are running a gauntlet in the playoffs. You have to win 11 post season games, 12 if you are the wildcard, which the Dodgers almost were last year. Now it will be a little more of an even playing field because you are going to have to win with what you have on August 1st. No more Sept 1 pickups who can impact the playoffs unless they are one of the 3 who can join the team from your own system. Teams can get hot going into the post season, and some have gone the other way. The Dodgers beating Colorado in game 163 sent the Rockies into a spin and they were gone. Friedman will make the best deal he feels improves his teams chances, and he will not over spend, and it has nothing to do with coming to his senses, it is the way he operates. Watching him these past 4 years I have learned what to expect. The offense has little chance of being upgraded where it needs to be the most, at catcher. Barnes and Martin are the ponies they are going to ride unless one of them goes down to injury. The Dodgers have won 6 World Series in their history. They have lost 14. That’s 20 appearances in the big dance. Cleveland has not won since 48. DC-Montreal never has won. Nor have the Rangers. Houston, when they beat the Dodgers won their first ever. So there are a lot of other teams who can carry the mantle of chokers far better than the Dodgers would. Old saying, ya gotta get there first. Lets wait and see if they get there.

    3. Steve, we’ve taken a vote a you win. You are the new president of the Andrew Friedman fan club. You make Bear seem like a hopeless optimist. AF gave Jansen a huge contract (hardly the MO for a cheapskate) and now you’re complaining that Jansen isn’t good enough. Maybe that’s why he hesitates to trade the entire prospect list for a reliever. Look at Diaz, Miller, Betances and many others this year who are either lousy or haven’t pitched at all and who all used to be considered premier relievers. It will be interesting to see what Friedman comes up with by the end of the month, but something tells me whatever it is you won’t be happy.

    4. Steve, Friedman does not control the money. He does not make the monetary decisions. Any trade he makes, he needs the approval of ownership to add money. That’s the way it has worked for years. Even when he is after free agents, any contract must be approved by ownership, so put the blame where it belongs. I do not necessarily care for how AF runs the team, never have, but he is not going to spend frivolously because he is under a mandate from the front office. Jansen, despite his problems, has save 20 plus games. Baez has been good and Kelly seems to be getting more settled in as a Dodger and has pitched a lot better. But, the fact remains that pitching is down across all of baseball. He will no doubt address the needs at the deadline. But do not expect him to trade his prime prospects. He did not even do that when he got Machado last year.

  3. AF has delivered at the last three deadlines so I trust he will again with a quality bullpen arm. But my question is- is this offense good enough against quality playoff pitching once again lefty pitching. I’m not convinced!

  4. This team IS good enough IF they are peaking in October. 2 years ago, in Game 7, at home, they swallowed an offensive olive. Last year the team bus had a flat at the wrong time. This year?… get the quality bullpen piece… heck get 2! … then hope like hell the offense doesn’t collectively ingurgitate Ambien in mid October.

    We can do this. You, me and Andrew, all pulling on the same end of the rope. If we let him know we fans will pay for that star reliever…. he has to do it! Ok, maybe all of you will pay for it…. I’m taking the year off financially. I’m there in spirit, but my wallet is empty until 2020.

  5. Fact is, and the stats support it, that they are slumping right now. Belli, Turner, Muncy, Kike, Barnes, all have been in a funk the last couple of weeks. Kike would still be looking for a hit save a dying quail that Benintendi could not catch. Muncy’s K rate is through the roof lately. He hit a long fly to left center that was caught off the wall last night, but hits are few and far between lately for him. So hopefully in homer haven, which is the Phillies home field, they all get hot again. Phillie pitching has given up 157 dingers.

  6. Breaking news, Red Sox get Andrew Cashner from the Orioles. Trade deadline starts early. They have already announced that when Eovaldi returns, it will be as the closer.

  7. Last night, the Angels all wore Skagg’s #45 as a tribute to their fallen comrade. The best player on the planet drove in 6 runs and the Halo’s pitchers combined for a no-hitter. Pretty special on a night like that. Orioles get 2 17 year old prospects from the Sox for Cashner.

    1. Here’s a weird factoid: there have been 13 combined no-hitters in MLB history. One of them (Orioles 2, A’s 0) was pitched on the day Skaggs was born (7/13/1991)

  8. You knew they’d snap out of it.

    Kelly 1 inning, an earned run and a WHIP of 3. He ain’t right yet.

    Urias can pitch.

    We’re good.

  9. Not concerned about Kelly’s little hiccup. He did not give up the lead. offense came out of a 4 game funk.

      1. Actually Dennis he has had a nice little run going Over his last 10 appearances before last night, his ERA was below 1. And his overall ERA had dropped to 5.50. Since he ditched his 4 seamer, he has pitched much better. No body is perfect, but he has definitely been better.

  10. With Pollock and Freese back this lineup is downright ridiculous. The Dodgers have never had such a deep group of guys that can all hit as well as play multiple positions. It is truly built for October baseball. I’ve said it a few times but I’ll say it again, this team feels like the one. I’m confident a lefty is coming for the bullpen and I had to put money on it I’d say it’s going to be Will Smith since the Giants have no choice but to trade him with his impending free agency. It is very doubtful he would want to sign an extension in SF with no real chance to win there. The price is going to sting for sure but no way Lux, Smith, Ruiz, May or Cartaya get moved IMO. Farhan knows our farm system better than anyone else so it won’t surprise me if he wants a package of some of the younger guys in the low levels that maybe haven’t received as much attention as the top guys but are tearing A ball up (Devin Mann, Niko Hulsizer). With MadBum about to be shipped out the Giants are in full rebuild and are looking for young, controllable assets to compete in the future not the present. If something happens and we don’t find that elite lefty however, then we have to ask ourselves if we still plan to use Urias in the rotation this season or does he then become your late inning lefty stopper? Whatever is going to happen, at least we will know soon.?

    1. I get that Alex. I felt the same way 2 years ago when we had home field in the Series. I felt the same way in ‘13 when Hanley got plunked by a wild ass Joe Kelly. So many things can happen…. it has to fall your way to bring it home. And Kasten built teams have a history of not winning the last game in a postseason series.

  11. Joe Kelly over his last 15 games has an ERA of 2.35. He has struck out 22 in 15.1 innings, His weak spot has been walks, and he has pitched with a lot of runners on base, Difference now is that he is getting out of those jams where before he would implode.

    1. Kelly has a long history to examine. There is a damn good reason his career ERA is pushing 4 and his career WHIP is 1.4. He has his moments, yes. But I find him to be streaky. Just like the Dodger team he plays for actually. When he’s on, he’s near unhittable. When he’s not, he’s pitching with men on base…. men he put there. I think ‘17, being a contract year, he may have prepared a little harder. That was one of only 2 years (out of 7) that his WAR was over 1, and it was only 1.3, good enough to get him over $30 million guaranteed. In mid July he’s pitched to negative .8 WAR. That ain’t good no matter how you break it down. Hopefully in months 9 and 10 he’s on. We no doubt could use the good Joe then.

      1. No edit capability this morning. Just looked. My bad. ‘18 was his contract year… and he pitched to a .4 WAR. Tell me again why Friedman gave this guy $30 million? He’s just not THAT good.

  12. Your over paying him by 5 million Scoop. He has a 3 year 25 million dollar deal and AF signed the guy because he totally shut the Dodgers down in the series……

  13. The Oakland A’s have just acquired Homer Bailey from the Royals. This makes the “Farmer” trade even more one-sided. I was at the Rancho game last night and saw Jeter Downs. Very impressive. I missed Josiah Gray by one night, when he threw 7 innings of 1 hit ball on Friday. That’s what we got, along with Bailey whom we immediately released. Bailey is now good enough that the A’s actually went out and traded for him for their stretch run. Meanwhile Kemp has been released, Wood has not pitched yet this year, Farmer is hitting about .225 but will never be considered a good defensive catcher and Puig has finally awakened and is having a fairly typical Puig year. Remember when the trade was made and a lot of people were screaming that we gave away all those great guys for a couple of no-name prospects PLUS the horrific Homer Bailey. Maybe AF isn’t so stupid after all.

  14. Same line up as yesterday with a couple of small changes. Taylor is at SS, and Martin catching so Seager and Barnes are getting a day off.

  15. Actually a few adjustments. Turner is the DH. Verdugo is in LF, Taylor at SS. Muncy at 3B and Seager, Barnes sat down.

      1. Taylor looks either really, really good or really, really bad. Enrique gives the impression that he’s just running around like a little league linebacker who never played defense before. Max hasn’t caused any damage yet.

      2. Freese misplayed one. Taylor Kiké up the middle has to be below replacement levels. I haven’t looked so it’s only a guess. Muncy at third just feels wrong.

      3. They made more than a few mistakes. Kike being out of position on a DP ball is inexcusable.. Baez blows the save opportunity giving up 2 homers in the 8th. Had given up only 2 all year. Fix the BP Andy.

      4. He will Bear. When he does Baez will still get his turn. He’s been one of the better arms down there.

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